Tibetans, supporters commemorate 1959 uprising

On March 10, 1959, a number of Tibetans armed themselves and fought in protest against Chinese occupation.

Today, more than a thousand Tibetan refugees from India, Nepal and Tibet live in the Bay Area, primarily in the East Bay and in San Francisco, according to the Tibetan Youth Congress, a global organization for the independence of Tibet.

Organizers kicked off their demonstrations 8:30 a.m. at Berkeley City Hall, where they raised the Tibetan national flag, which has been banned by the Chinese government, Tibetan Youth Congress spokeswoman Tenzin Shakya said.

Many then traveled to San Francisco for a 10 a.m. rally at Justin Herman Plaza and a march along Market Street toward City Hall.

After an 11:30 a.m. rally at City Hall, the march planned to continue to the Chinese Consulate on Laguna Street for a 1:30 p.m. rally. The day of action will close with a 5 p.m. candlelight vigil at Union Square.

Today's events feature Ngawang Sangdrol, a former Tibetan Buddhist nun who was served 11 years in a Chinese prison.

In 1992, Sangdrol was locked up at age 15 for peacefully demonstrating against the Chinese occupation, said Yangchen Lhamo, spokeswoman for Students for a Free Tibet.

"She really symbolizes the suffering of Tibetans and the cruelty of Chinese government," Lhamo said.

Lhamo said about 50 protesters attended the flag-raising and several hundred could join the demonstrations throughout the day.

"Protests really do have results, and they hold the potential to change lives," she said.

Demonstrations honoring the uprising in Tibet are happening today in cities across the U.S. A full list can be found on www.march10.org.

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