Over 100 people gathered this afternoon just outside iron gates that currently make up the temporary security perimeter surrounding Washington Convention Center, site of the 2010 Nuclear Summit hosted by President Obama in Washington, DC. From their mouths one clear message denoted their cause, “free Tibet”.
The context of this summit had indicated that there would be a number of various protests with a variety of foci scattered throughout downtown DC while leaders of over 40 nations met. Instead, a small but vocal group of Hu Jintau protestors and “Free Tibet” supporters was all that could be found.
Hu Jintau is the current leader of the People’s Republic of China and public enemy number one in the eyes of the supporters of a free Tibet. For those that are foggy on the topic, Tibet was an isolated nation in the hills of the Himalayas that came under Chinese control in 1949. At one point this peaceful “country” was comprised of those who deeply believed in Buddhism and took their cues from a highly respected community and religious leader known as The Dalai Lama. They spoke Tibetan and adhered closely to Tibetan practices based exclusively on Tibetan tradition.
In 1949, China aggressively took control of Tibet, assimilating it into the communist province of China it is today. During this transition and for years to come, Tibetans have been the victims of oppressive and aggressive Communism. Many are not permitted to practice a free religion with exceptions such as The Dalai Lama, while almost none have the right to free speech. They adhere closely to the practices of their communist parent with no room for free choice. Worst of all, Tibetans find themselves involved in peaceful protests nearly every day, which meet a very physical and often times, deadly response by Chinese soldiers. It is assumed that nearly 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed in clashes to date.
“Free Tibet” supporters gathered today at the corner of 10th and Massachusetts to have their voices heard by world leaders meeting less than a football field away. Their words rang through the empty streets as buildings propelled their echoing messages; “free Tibet”, “world leaders speak for Tibet”, “stop the killing in Tibet”, and “Hu Jintau, go home now”.
The frustrations of these supporters lie in the fact that so many world leaders are currently recognizing China, specifically Hu Jintau, as a critical cornerstone to the nuclear weapon security issue yet provide no pressure for the protection of human rights in Tibet.
As the day progressed, loud voices transitioned into deep rumination as many supporters put down their megaphones and resorted to meditation in groups throughout downtown DC.
Meetings were conducted safely and successfully inside a complex heavily guarded by Police, Federal Agents, Army Soldiers, and Secret Service. Hu Jintau met productively on the issue of nuclear security with President Obama, while the issue of human rights in Tibet has yet to be recognized.
Meetings continue tomorrow, April 12, 2010. “Free Tibet” supporters will be gathering again for a daylong protest as well.
For the complete photo set and a video of today’s protest please visit: Free Tibet Protest @ Nuclear Summit