Kolkata — Indian Tibet supporter Sandesh Meshram began his fifth cycle rally in eight Indian states, from West Bengal to New Delhi, and called on the Chinese government to release Tibetan environmentalist Karma Samdrup, who has been imprisoned to 15 years for advocating the protection of Tibet's fragile environment and Tibetan rivers, which are a source of fresh water for millions of people in countries neighbouring with Tibet.
Karma Samdrup, a Tibetan environmentalist, businessman and philanthropist, was sentenced by the Chinese authorities to 15 years in prison on June 24, 2010, for campaigning to protect Tibet's environment and rivers, and call on the Chinese authorities to release his two brothers, Chime Namgyal and Rinchen Samdrup, who were imprisoned on August 7, 2009 after accusing local officials in eastern Tibet of poaching endangered species.
Karma Samdrup founded the Three Rivers Environmental Protection Group and campaigns for the conservation of the sources of the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong rivers, which are sources of fresh water for millions of people in countries neighbouring with Tibet. The group has won several awards, including the Earth Prize, jointly administered by Friends of the Earth Hong Kong and the Ford Motor Company. Karma Samdrup has also received an award from Jet Li's One Foundation for its environmental and cultural work, and was named Philanthropist of the Year by China Central Television (CCTV) for "creating harmony between man and nature" in 2006.
Sandesh Meshram alias Samten Yeshi, General Secretary of the India-Tibet Friendship Society, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, has launched his fifth cycle rally titled "Jannagaran (Public Awareness) Cycle Yatra", whose main message is "Free Tibet, Save India". The rally will last 35 days and cover 2,500 km, from West Bengal to New Delhi, the capital of India, passing through eight states, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and New Delhi, to call on the Chinese government to release Tibetan environmentalist Karma Samdrup and to raise awareness of the Tibet issue and human rights issues in the country among Indians in general and the people he met along the way. He was warmly welcomed by the Tibetan communities in these states.
In a Tibet Post International's (TPI) previous interview with Samten Yeshi, he told TPI, "I had initiated cycle yatras in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019 and till now, I have covered a distance of 13,770 km within India. I believe I have been successful in my cycle rallies. More people have begun to understand and ask questions about Tibet and raise awareness about the issue. Earlier, Tibetans were considered as Nepalis in India. But now, their identity and unique culture is being recognised and information about Tibet is reaching the masses.
While TPI asked how should Indians be involved in supporting the Tibetan community, he said," I request the people of India to put immense pressure on the parliamentarians of their region and make them speak on the issue of Tibet in the Parliament. They should also be involved in making this movement a success by establishing pro-Tibetan organisations in their societies and regions. Indians should support their Tibetan brothers and sisters, wherever they go and stand by their cause by joining them in the movements and activists that they organise regularly.
When he was aked what message for the Chinese government, he said, "I want to tell the Chinese government that Tibet was an independent country and it should be made independent at all costs. The Chinese government should immediately stop its human rights abuses and atrocities against Tibetans as well as Uighurs and Hong Kongers. They should release those Tibetans who are being relentlessly tortured and are suffering in Chinese prisons. They should also release the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.