Tibetans protest in India’s ‘mini-Lhasa’

April 17th, 2008 - 11:13 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Dharamsala, April 17 (IANS) A large number of Tibetans held anti-China protests in this seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile Thursday, showing solidarity with those protesting against the arrival of the Beijing Olympics flame in the Indian capital. McLeodganj near here, the Himalayan abode of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, saw a big protest by Tibetans and their supporters throughout the day.

From prayer meetings to a hunger strike to sloganeering against the Chinese - the Tibetans put up one of their biggest protests in the town, also known as ‘mini Lhasa’ since the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans live here.

Even though top Tibetan leaders were in New Delhi and other places to organize protests, Tibetan youths, monks and nuns and even children came out in good numbers to register their protest here, coinciding with the Olympic torch relay run in India.

The youths demanded complete independence of Tibet from China - a demand at variance with the middle-path advocated by the Dalai Lama, who is seeking autonomy for the Tibetan region under the Chinese rule.

Tibetan shopkeepers here kept their establishments closed to show solidarity.

The Tibetan Solidarity Committee, set up by the Tibetan government-in-exile based here, put up an exhibition of photographs of the Tibetans killed in Tibet after protests beginning March 10.

A prayer meeting was held here in the morning in solidarity with the protests in New Delhi.

By afternoon, thousands of Tibetans including Buddhist monks and nuns and children assembled in upper Dharamsala and marched several kilometres on the winding road to lower Dharamsala.

Many had covered their mouths with red bands. It signified that “in Communist China Tibetans have no right to speech”, said a protester.

Many held placards and posters reading “Allow free press into Tibet” and “Free detained prisoners”.

The state of Himachal Pradesh has a high number of Tibetans in the country. Dharamsala is the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, headed by the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959.

A hunger strike organized by Tibetan women and youths entered the 36th day.

Protests were also organized in many other places in Himachal Pradesh, including state capital Shimla and the tourist resort of Manali.

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