"Now Tibet is not so far"
Letter from Almora
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Tibetan activist Tenzin Tsundue, a key figure in the Return March to Tibet, writes from their most recent stop in Almora, Uttarakhand. This letter was forwarded from the group Return March to Tibet.
(The photo was taken at last year's long life puja for His Holiness in Dharamsala.)
When I packed my sleeping bag that early morning before sunrise for this long journey, I placed a white (khatak) scarf at the alter of His Holiness and said I have decided, whatever happens, I will make my way through. Walking for almost 70 with 300 people covering more than 900 kilometers through Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, UP, we reached Almora town yesterday in the Kumaon Mountains in the north Indian state of Uttrakhand. From here Tibet is not very far.
The March to Tibet began from Dharamsala on 10th March, the same day similar uprisings happened all around the world, organized by Tibetans and Tibet supporters, even in Tibet – a global Tibetan uprising. We started with 100 core marchers, on our way many more joined us. As we leave Almora tomorrow into the high mountain valleys towards Tibet, we are 300 marchers and eight support marchers who are foreigners from different countries, some of whom have been with us from Dharamsala.
All along the route the Indian people have welcomed us with warmth, cheered our spirit and in some places offered us water and shelter. At most places we spent our nights in Ashrams, Gurudwaras and schools, sometimes on empty grounds on the roadside....
The Marchers wake up at 4 am, after washing and packing sleeping bags, tents and mattresses, we have breakfast and start walking at 5 am. Usually walking for 6 to 7 hours a day we cover a distance of 20-25 kilometers, sometimes walking even 27 or 28 kilometers. The logistics and kitchen team move ahead in trucks and set up the camp. At many places water is luxury. .....
Most marchers are monks from the monasteries in south India; some old people who escaped from Tibet along with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1959, the eldest one being 78. The youngest are two 17 year old boys, born and brought up in India and have never seen Tibet. There are several young mothers who left behind their family in the care of their husbands. ... ongoing Tibetan protests in Kathmandu are highly appreciated understanding Nepalese police brutality.
We are now starting the last leg of the March. From Almora to the border is now barely 200 kilometers, and it will now be cold as we ascend higher into the Himalayas. I know returning to a homeland that is still under foreign occupation is not easy. Chinese military will of course guard the border with machine guns, even Indian police will find an excuse to stop us. Confrontation is inevitable, but we are not stopping. We may even have to camp at the border for a long time, might have to call for international support and participation. We march into uncertainty.
The March to Tibet is a process for us to return to our homeland and reclaim our right to be in our native land in freedom. Whatever happens, we have deep commitment to non-violence; we will not retaliate. We may be beaten, jailed or even shot at, but we are not giving up. And for me there is no other plan in life other than this March. For all of us marchers, this is our life commitment.
For daily updates and photos about the march and to read personal stories of the Marchers please visit: www.TibetanUprising.org
We have a number of non-Tibetan support Marchers who have been walking with us for a couple days or longer, and some right from the beginning.
If you are interested in joining please contact our coordinators: Sherab Woeser firstname.lastname@example.org (cell phone: 0091-9418394426) and Lobsang Yeshi (cell phone: 0091-9410936742 / 9756969141).
If you are far away or can’t join us, you can help spread the word. Donations of sleeping bags, shoes and mattresses can be of great use. Your financial contribution can help feed the Marchers and give water to keep us going. I count for every Tibetan’s contribution towards this movement.
Bod Gyalo! (Victory to Tibet!)
Tenzin Tsundue, on the way to Tibet
May 13, 2008
Almora, Uttarakhand State, India