The Tibetan diaspora staged a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Vienna on Wednesday, condemning the arrest of Tibetans peacefully opposing the planned dam construction in Tibet’s Sichuan province.

Protesters demanded the immediate release of hundreds of Tibetan monks and villagers who were arrested for expressing their concerns about the dam project. The demonstration aimed to draw attention to an “illegal and inhumane action” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Amid raised slogans and waving flags, Tibetan diaspora members also passionately spoke out against China’s “draconian laws in the occupied territory of Tibet.” Placards held by protesters conveyed strong messages, including Chinese Communist Party should stop forced relocation and dam construction in Kham Dege Wonpo village in Tibet and China stop the demolition of homes and monasteries in Kham Dege in Tibet.

Tibetans in Vienna rally

One protester emphasized the potential impact of the proposed dam, stating, “The dam would submerge historic monasteries and numerous Tibetan villages, the sixth in a series of 13 dams on the River Dri Chu. The demonstration in Sichuan province began when CCP officials aimed to demolish Yena and Wontoe monasteries for dam construction.”

Highlighting the cultural significance of the affected monasteries, the protester added, “Yena monastery in Shiba village and Wontoe monastery in Wontoe village are cultural landmarks believed to date back over 700 years, with mural paintings of historical importance.”

These landmarks hold immense cultural and historical significance for the Tibetan people. The protest echoed similar actions in Sichuan province, where hundreds, including monks, were arrested for defending their land. Protesters in Vienna carried signs urging their immediate release and called on the international community to stand with the Tibetan people.

Austria’s young Tibetans speak out

This isn’t the first time the Tibetan community in Vienna has raised its voice. Last week, young activists used a projector to cast images of the Chinese government’s human rights abuses onto the embassy walls. They condemned not just the dam project but also the wider environmental destruction and cultural suppression faced by Tibetans.

This three young Tibetans in Austria showcased videos of the forceful displacement of Tibetans and projected words emphasizing human rights violations and cultural genocide.

Affiliated with the Voluntary Tibet Advocacy Group (V-TAG), Europe, the young Tibetans called on the international community to support the Tibetan government-in-exile in safeguarding the human rights of Tibetans in Tibet. They also raised awareness in Austria about the large-scale environmental degradation and displacement caused by unsustainable projects in Tibet.

The protesters underscored that China’s actions, including massive construction projects and forced relocations, aim to erase Tibetan identities, violate fundamental rights and committing cultural genocide. They condemned China’s persecution of human rights defenders, forced resettlement, workplace discrimination, curtailment of religious freedom, and cultural genocide, stating that these actions blatantly disregard international human rights law.

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