100 protest in TA for a free Tibet

Nearly 100 Tibetan refugees and Israelis gathered opposite the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv Wednesday to voice opposition to the ongoing suppression of protests in Tibet by the Chinese military. As a large red Chinese flag rustled in the wind atop the embassy building, protesters shouted slogans such as "Long Live the Dalai Lama" and "We want Freedom." Signs reading "Tibet belongs to Tibetans" and others calling for a "Free Tibet" dotted the protest, which the core participants - mainly Tibetans - had begun at six in the morning with a hunger strike. "We came for the people in Lhasa [the capital of Tibet]," said a Tibetan protesters, who identified himself as Lobsang. "They are protesting for their rights, and the Chinese fight back with tanks and bullets." Lobsang said he had been unable to contact an aunt in Lhasa, as the Chinese government had shut down phone and Internet service, and barred foreign reporters from entering. "I don't know if she is okay, because all the phones are broken," he said. Lobsang, like many of the Tibetans at the protest, is an agricultural worker; he works at an organic farm near Latrun. The majority of participants, however, were Israelis, many holding signs in Hebrew calling for an end to China's occupation of Tibet. "What's going on in Tibet is violence directed against a particular group," said Ohad Itzhakya, who came from Hod Hasharon for the protest. "And the Jewish people know about this all too well." Avishai Moskovitch, a Tel Aviv native, said he was at the protest because it was the right thing to do. "I'm realistic," he said. "I don't believe that my actions here will have a direct impact on China's behavior, but as an individual, I think it's important to do things that you believe in." Ching Lieu, the Chinese embassy's political officer, told the Post by telephone, "The people who are demonstrating in front of the embassy are not really Tibetans. They were born in India or China and haven't been to Tibet, which they call their homeland. They are demonstrating based on false information regarding the protests that began [in Tibet] on March 14. "China is not a dictatorship like the Western media describes it. We have had an open-door policy for over 30 years and we allow journalists in China to be free. Maybe during certain situations, they can't, but that's normal and I think that should be understandable. In a short time, the restriction [on foreign journalists in Tibet] will be lifted, and Tibet will be opened to the rest of the world." We are planning to take the media into Tibet and show how the Tibetan people are enjoying their lives. "How many people are there in Tibet? 5.5 million. How many people have been protesting? A few hundred. So you can see that the percentage of people that are protesting is quite few." "I think people need to take a stand," said Raz Shapira, another Tel Aviv resident, who remained at the protest site as the crowd dwindled. "China can't keep doing what they want without the world saying something."