PORTLAND— A group of about 15 Tibetans and their supporters congregated in Monument Square on Tuesday for Tibetan National Uprising Day, calling for an end to the Chinese occupation of their country.

Tenzin Wangdue holds a sign at the protest on March 10. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

March 10 commemorates an important day in 1959, when, according to Robert Barnett, former director of Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, a protest in the streets resulted in the deaths of over 80,000 Tibetans. The 14th Dalai Llama of Tibet, the Buddhist religious leader, fled to India to avoid Chinese arrest and the pivotal event has led to the ongoing turmoil in Tibet and China.

Organizer Lodoe Gyaltsen said while Portland does not have a large Tibetan population, there are a number of Tibetan refugees located both in the area and along the Midcoast. This year also marked the group’s second protest in Monument Square.

“We want to thank everyone who came out to support us,”  said organizer Jamyang Choephel said. “So many people died from this, and we are here to remember them. From the violence to self-immolation and protest, we are here to commemorate them,”

The protesters and their supporters, including members of Maine-based Tibetan associations in Brunswick and South Portland, chanted “Free Tibet” during the demonstration. In between chants, organizer Choephel read a statement:

“Today, on this 61st uprising day, we mourn and remember every single Tibetan who lost their precious lives for our struggle. We want to say to our brothers and sisters in Tibet that we will be your muffled voice, and we will keep hope alive until the day we reunite in Tibet,” he said.

A couple with a young child was among the dozen or so protesters rallying in Portland Tuesday against the ongoing occupation of Tibet by China. Chance Viles / American Journal

Organizer Jamyang Choephel reads a statement about the uprising. Chance Viles / American Journal


The protesters pose for a group shot at their March 10th protest at Monument Square, Portland. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

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