Tibetan exiles not to celebrate new year

February 8th, 2009 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, Feb 7 (IANS) Tibetan exiles have decided not to celebrate Losar (Tibetan New Year), the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) of its government-in-exile said Saturday.
According to the Tibetan lunar calendar, Losar is the first day of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated in a big way. This year, Losar is on Feb 25.

“The CTA will hold only customary religious programmes to mark Tibetan New Year, taking into consideration the continuing repression in Tibet and the ruthless crackdown last year (2008) which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Tibetans and thousands imprisoned,” said its statement issued here.

“We (the CTA) appeal to all the departments concerned and offices of the administration not to organise any lavish celebrations such as hosting feasts, dance parties and lighting firecrackers.”

Other organisations of Tibetan exiles based in this Indian hill town have also decided not to participate in festivities to mark the day.

“We will observe silence to mourn the death of our brethren who sacrificed their lives for the cause of people in Tibet during the Beijing Olympics,” said president of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) Tsewang Rigzin. The group has more than 30,000 members across the globe.

The TYC, which the Chinese labelled as a “terrorist organisation”, plans to burn effigies of Chinese leaders on that day.

B. Tsering, president of the Tibetan Women Association, said: “This year, we (the exiles) will remember the sacrifice made by countless unsung heroes during the past five decades… This is an occasion to mourn those who sacrificed their lives and to express solidarity with those who are still suffering.”

Nobel Peace laureate the Dalai Lama, who along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge here in 1959, has spent the last two decades of his exile campaigning for “meaningful autonomy” for his homeland.

In March 2008, protests against Chinese rule in Lhasa erupted into violence which spread to other areas of western China.

Tibet’s government-in-exile, which is based here, said more than 219 people were killed and 1,294 injured in the subsequent Chinese crackdown.

Nearly six million Tibetans live in Tibet region of China while over 150,000 live in other countries, most of them in India.

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