More than 100 Tibetan-Americans and supporters made their way through Chicago’s downtown today to memorialize the date in 1959 when Chinese forces occupied the country and forced the Dalai Lama into exile.
The marchers started about 11 a.m. near the Chicago Water Tower and made their way to the Thompson Center at Dearborn and Randolph Streets before walking up to the Chinese Consulate, 100 W. Erie St.
Chanting slogans such as “Free, Free, Free Tibet,” and “Human Rights in Tibet,” and carrying signs such as “Tibet belongs to Tibetans” as well as Tibetan flags, the protesters hoped to raise awareness regarding the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese military beginning on March 10, 1959.
Street protests and uprisings in many countries including Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have inspired Tibetans, said Tenzin Youdon, 23, a Loyola University student who has been attending rallies on March 10 for much of her life. Youdon said that Tibetans—who are now a minority in Tibet after decades of ethnic Chinese moving into what is now a Chinese province—want to have their freedoms respected.
“Especially these past few months, we’ve seen an uprising in Egypt. We’ve been seeing things going on in Libya,” Youdon said. “And just because Tibetans aren’t the majority in Tibet, and Chinese are, that doesn’t make our voice less important.”
Police said there were no arrests during the march or the protest outside the consulate.