3 relatives of killed Tibetan activist resume walk

AP News
Posted: Feb 23, 2011 3:19 PM
3 relatives of killed Tibetan activist resume walk

A brother and two young sons of the Dalai Lama's nephew on Wednesday resumed his walk for Tibetan freedom, a trek that cost the activist his life in a roadside accident.

Jigme Norbu, 45, was struck and killed Feb. 14 by an SUV about 25 miles south of St. Augustine, authorities said. The accident occurred on the first day of Norbu's planned 300-mile walk to West Palm Beach to raise awareness about Tibet.

Kunga Norbu and Norbu's eldest sons, 13-year-old Tenzin and 9-year-old Jensen, began Wednesday from Fort Pierce near Florida's Atlantic coast. Joined by a group of about one or two dozen others, they planned to walk about 20 miles a day until they reached West Palm Beach on Friday.

A memorial service was planned for Saturday at a West Palm Beach garden.

"I wanted to finish this dream since I know my brother very well. He would not want us to sit around and mope," said Kunga Norbu before the start of the walk. "He is the type of person who would want us to go out and finish this walk and stay strong and be strong."

The group planned to carry signs and wear T-shirts about Tibet along the trek.

All told, Jigme Norbu had completed at least 21 walks and bike rides, logging more than 7,800 miles in the U.S. and overseas to support freedom for Tibet and highlight the suffering of its people. He completed his most recent 300-mile trek in December in Taiwan.

He lived in Bloomington, Ind., where his father had been a professor at Indiana University and he owned a restaurant that served Tibetan and Indian cuisine.

Police have called Norbu's death an accident and say they don't expect charges. Norbu was walking along an unlit stretch of roadway after sunset in an area known for accidents.

Despite the accident, the walk for Tibet continued along Florida's coast last week, through this week, and had about 20 participants on Wednesday, said Donna Kim-Brand, a walk organizer.

Two St. Augustine men, who began the journey with Jigme Norbu, picked it up from the crash site, joined by a handful of Tibetans who flew to Florida after the accident, and locals who rotated in, walking a few a miles when the group passed through their communities, she said.

"All along the way, people are opening up their hearts and opening up their homes, offering water, and meals and places to stay over night," Kim-Brand said. "It's just this magnetic force field of people."

Kunga Norbu said he hadn't talked yet to his uncle about the activist's death.

"The Dalai Lama is the Dalai Lama. He is very busy," Kunga Norbu said. "When I have an audience with him in the near future, my late brother's name will be mentioned of course."