PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Today was a day of protests in Philadelphia and around the world for supporters of an independent Tibet, and a day the Dalai Lama said he will give up his political role in the Tibetan government-in-exile and shift that power to an elected representative (see related story).

On this 52nd anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, Tibetans and Tibetan supporters all over the world demonstrated.

Here in Philadelphia, a couple of dozen people (above and below) marched from 10th and Race Streets, in Chinatown, to Indpendence Mall.

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tibet protest march kuznits insert Philadelphia Protesters Push For Tibet Freedom As Dalai Lama Cedes Power
“The Chinese had started coming in the 1950s (into Tibet),” explains Karma Gelek, president of the Tibetan Association of Philadelphia.  “March 10th, 1959, was the first time when all the Tibetans in Tibet got together and revolted against their Chinese occupation.  They were brutally crushed, and a lot of Tibetans fled into neighboring India, Nepal, Bhutan, and countries like that.”

But Gelek says that while most Tibetans — including the Dalai Lama — live in exile, there are still those who live in Tibet and life for them is difficult.

“People are being subjected to arbitrary arrests and torture,” Gelek  says.  “Their language has been supressed, their culture has been supressed.  People are not allowed to practice their own religion, and they do not have basic freedom of speech.”

Gelek says he hopes one day that the political climate will change so that Tibetans can once again have spiritual autonomy in that country.

Interactive: The Life of the Dalai Lama

Reported by Hadas Kuznits, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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