Dharamshala, India —An exclusive interview with Sandesh Meshram, a cyclist on the Public Awareness Cycle Rally, who shares his journey and the purpose of the cycle rally, and says "the Chinese Communist Party should immediately stop the human rights violations and atrocities against Tibetans as well as Uighurs and Hong Kong people.”
On the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize conferred to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and International Human Rights Day, Sandesh Meshram alias Samten Yeshi began a cycle rally, titled Janjagaran Cycle Yatra with the message of “Free Tibet, Save India”.
In an exclusive interview with Tibet Post International, he shares details about his work for the Tibetan community, the purpose of organizing the cycling rally, his views on the Tibetan issue, and what Indians and the international community must do to support the Tibetan cause.
TPI: Please give a brief introduction of yourself
Interviewee: My name is Sandesh Meshram alias Samten Yeshi and I am 54 years old. I was born and brought up in Nagpur city in Maharashtra, India and completed my graduation from Dr. Ambedkar College (Deeksha Bhoomi). Currently, I am the Regional Coordinator, West Zone, Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India and the General Secretary of the India-Tibet Friendship Association in Nagpur.
TPI: How long have you been associated with the Tibetan cause?
Sandesh: I have been a close friend of Tibet for 39 years now. Since 1982, I have been associated with the Tibetan cause and have been fighting for the rights of Tibetans inside Tibet and around the world.
TPI: You began the cycle rally on World Human Rights Day. What is the main purpose of the Janjagaran Cycle yatra?
Sandesh: The main objectives of the Janjagran Yatra are to call for Tibet's independence and demand India's security. The cycle yatra also aims to create public awareness about Tibet to the common citizens and educate them about the harsh realities that Tibetans face every day under the Chinese Communist Party. I am also appealing to the masses to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will be held in 2022. The cycle yatra is also being done to re-enforce the centuries-old relationship between India and Tibet and to remind people that India shares a common border with Tibet, not China.
TPI: This is your fifth cycle yatra. How successful were the previous yatras that you were a part of?
Sandesh: 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. Due to my deteriorating health, I was not able to complete the yatra in 2019 and I left out the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. This year, I wanted to complete my unfinished mission of covering the states that I left out two years back. 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.
TPI: How should Indians be involved in supporting the Tibetan community?
Sandesh: 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 organizations 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.
TPI: Do you have a message for the Chinese government?
Sandesh: Yes, 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, and present them to the whole world with dignity.
TPI: What should the international community do to raise awareness about the Tibetan cause?
Sandesh: The international community should call on the parliaments of their respective countries to pass the bill for Tibetan independence and at the same time raise the issue of Tibet at the United Nations. They should support His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his teachings. They should also actively share news related to Tibet and Tibetan activists and oppose the Chinese government's atrocities in Tibet.
The Janjagran Cycle yatra started on December 10, 2021, from Mundgod, Karnataka, one of the biggest Tibetan settlements in South India and will go on till January 12, 2022. It will cover a distance of 2400 km and pass through Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, concluding at Bengaluru, Karnataka.