Hundreds of Bay Area Tibetans and their supporters will commemorate the 56th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day on Tuesday with a march through San Francisco and a speech by U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
This year's anniversary of the 1959 uprising in Tibet, when hundreds of thousands of Tibetans protested the Chinese takeover and Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was exiled, comes amid what Tibetan supporters say is a recent crackdown by China of those protesting in Tibet.
In August, for instance, paramilitary police allegedly opened fire on a crowd of Tibetans who were peacefully protesting the detention of a respected village elder, supporters said. At least six Tibetans died in the incident.
While hundreds of Tibetans continue to flee each year, the number of refugees has dwindled since 2008, when China increased its border security, said Giovanni Vassallo, president of Bay Area Friends of Tibet.
Tibetan Uprising Day will honor the more than 90,000 Tibetans killed during the 1959 protests of the Chinese takeover, along with the 80,000 refugees who followed that year, supporters said.
“This day commemorates all the lives lost of all the Tibetans protesting against the Chinese occupation of Tibet … as well as the over 1 million who have been killed directly or indirectly because of the occupation,” Vassallo said.
Pelosi, D-San Francisco, is expected to speak at City Hall, along with Supervisor John Avalos, before the group marches to the Chinese Consulate and then to Justin Herman Plaza on The Embarcadero.
There are about 2,000 Tibetans living in the Bay Area, Vassallo said.