Hundreds of Tibetans came together on Friday in a rally for the 58th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day at Yonge-Dundas Square.
The rally began as a march at 9:30 a.m., beginning at Parkdale Collegiate Institute and running along Queen Street until concluding at the square.
Flags bearing the Tibetan colors of red, white, blue, green and yellow were proudly brandished as the marchers repeatedly yelled: “China! Out of Tibet now!”
People of all ages – including toddlers with their families – came out to show support for the cause, despite the bitter cold and wind.
Some were holding up posters that read things like, “Tibet Belongs to Tibetans,” while others had pictures of unlawfully detained prisoners or their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who was forced into exile in 1959.
The theme of Friday’s event was a protest about the 2016 demolition of buildings in Larung Gar, which is said to be one of the largest Buddhist towns in the world with a population of roughly 40,000. The hashtag #StandWithLarungGar was seen on signs and pamphlets.
Canadian Tibetan Association member Chemi Lhamo said that the demolition was a further attempt to wipe out Tibetan culture, adding that, “10,000 monks and nuns have been evicted since demolition began, and are being forced to undergo patriotic education classes.”
Lhamo said the situation has become so dire that some Tibetans have started self-immolating – a form of suicide whereby one lights themselves on fire.
“It’s heart-breaking,” she said.
It was reported by BBC at the time that China cited “over-crowding” as the primary reason for the eviction and demolition of Larung Gar.