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Double Olympics: Delhi follows Dharamsala

As China was preparing to build its grand image via Beijing Olympics, some Tibetans thought about a parallel event which could deny China the "good will" it would earn through Olympics, reportsSarat C Das.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2008 20:11 IST
Sarat C Das

The Tibetan insurrection against China has manifested in many forms - protesting Tibetans in Dharamsala turned off house lights during Olympics opening ceremony and many of them gathered at their main temple at Mcleodganj with their faces covered with black clothes, orange-robed monks fast on rainy days under make-shift tents in Delhi inviting police intervention to rush them to medical emergency, lamas walk single file holding prayer wheel and chanting mantras while more religious among them plant prayer flags onto the sacred grounds thinking they would redeem them from Chinese, young Tibetans shun workplaces to become rabble rousers and others stage folk operas with a combination of dances, chants and songs, and even Tibetans largely resisted marrying Chinese despite their increased presence in Eastern Tibet. <b1>

While world mutely looks at Tibetan misery there are more than 11,000 monks and nuns have been expelled from Tibet since 1996 for opposing "patriotic re-education" sessions conducted at monasteries and nunneries under the "Strike Hard" campaign, according to The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Amidst these protests as China neared to its grand image building "Olympics", some Tibetans thought about a parallel event which could deny China the "good will" it would earn through Olympics. The Dharamsala Olympics, which took nearly two years on the drawing board, had its Olympic torch which traversed through fifty world cities to arrive at Dharamsala, the officialdom of the Tibetan government-in-exile headed by Dalai Lama. The Dharamsala Olympics solicited donors through a colorful website and engaged celebrity activists in fundraising. On the day of the event the participants were dressed up in bold red and white tracksuits emblazoned with the familiar interlocking rings of the Olympic logo and the slogan, "One world, many dreams".

"The world goes to Beijing for the Olympics Games, but we have nowhere to go -- and so we must demonstrate we the Tibetan people are also alive," said games director Lobsang Wangyal in this fog-shrouded northern Indian hilltop town.

However, the mountainous topography has imposed restrictions on some events. The 100-metre dash has been shortened to just 24 metres because of a shortage of flat land.

D Dranetz, a Tibetan activist said: "I plan not to watch the Genocide Olympics in Beijing and am urging everyone I know to likewise refrain."

Following reasonable political success of Dharamsala Olympics, a pro-Tibetan Group Eastern Turkistan, Manchuria & Inner Mongolia (YLFTM) organised another Olympics ( "Colonical Olympics Games 2008") in Delhi on the day of Beijing Olympics to send a strong political message. It was more a political event than a sporting extravaganza. The event was initially planned at a sedate Lochab farm house but then shifted to Chetram Farm House in Najafgarh Kapashera border Road of New Delhi as owner of the farm house Hari Om panicked when police closed in on the venue.



Prior to the event, the police roughed up a large number of Tibetan protestors and even detailed a few to release them later. However, all possible roadblocks to the event appeared to be a thin membrane as the event took place amidst a sloganeering crowd of 1500 which included an official representative from Tibetan government-in-exile -- Chyong Wanggug.

The event had participation from East Turkistan, Inner Mongolia, and Manchuria. All these nations differ with China on their political status quo and increasingly mounting protest to delink from China in recent years.

This unusual sporting event had three categories - kabadi, wrestling and sprint race. "Initially we planned six sporting categories including badminton and gymnastics but rain curtailed the event," said Narender Chowdhuary, national chairman of YLFTM.

As the Tibetan Olympics was in progress, heavily armed police in Delhi stopped many protesters who tried to storm the Chinese Embassy through robust police barricades to coincide with the games' opening ceremony. In a separate incidence in Dharamsala, more than 2,000 Tibetan monks and protesters marched through the serpentine lanes. Probably, more ominous, when Indian police thwarted the march of some 100 Tibetan exiles to Tibet who were protesting against China holding the Olympics.