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Losar Celebrations Cancelled in Mourning of Tibetan Self-immolations

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Download The Tibetan community around the world is marking Losar - the Tibetan new year.

But this year the celebrations have been cancelled in mourning for the Tibetan monks who have been setting themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese occupation.

At least 20 monks and others have self-immolated in recent months with China accused of severe human rights breaches in Chinese-occupied tibet.

For the exiled Tibetan community in India, the new year period leaves little to celebrate.

On the streets of Delhi's Tibetan refugee quarter of Manju Ka Tilla, a group of people are sending up prayers and songs.

But these are not prayers of celebration, but rather prayers for the dead.

“Basically Tibetan new year is a celebration, a very enjoyable day. Every day we used to celebrate as a refugee in India. This year, since there are many brothers and sisters in Tibet who are sacrificing their lives for the cause of Tibet. Since now there are about 24 who have who have self immolated for the cause of Tibet. This is why there is no Losar.”

Pemste is general secretary of the welfare office in Delhi's Tibetan quarter.

He says that the recent spate of self immolations by Tibetan monks is a sign of an increasing oppression of the Tibetan people by the Chinese state.

“It clearly shows that the Chinese regime they are suppressing the Tibetans. They don't have the voice to raise their issues. They don't have rights. The human rights in totally neglected. The only option the Tibetans left behind is to immolate themselves. This is the hardest way to express their own feeling.”

As the prayers continue, a group of Tibetan women are marking the new year with a day-long hunger strike.

“My name is Tsering Dolkas. I am vice president of the women's association, Delhi chapter. Our hunger strike is in solidarity with all those who have died. We want to send a message of peace and harmony. But these are sad times for the Tibetan people and we cannot celebrate or be happy this new year.”

The Tibetan community has struggling to regain its homeland for more than 60 years, after communist troops occupied the territory in 1950.

Tibetans accuse China of systematically repressing its people, and destroying Tibetan culture, but China argues its brought development to the Tibetan region.

As the Tibetan community enters the year 2137 according to their calendar, the community now faces a challenging transition.

Their leader, the ageing Dalai Lama, has retreated from political life, handing over power to an elected government.

The new prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay is a Harvard educated lawyer.

He faces the task of uniting the Tibetan people and continuing their struggle for an independent homeland.

Karten Tsering is the vice president of the regional Tibetan Freedom Movement in Delhi.

He believes that despite the difficult transition, the Tibetan Freedom Movement remains in safe hands.

“The Tibetan movement will be the same as before. We don't think that the Dalai Lama has gone away from us. It’s just a political retirement. We have a very good Prime Minister in Lobsang Sangay. He has all the blessing of the Dalai Lama.”

While the Tibetan community here in Delhi remains in prayer for the new year, protests are planned for March 10, marking 62 years since China occupied Tibet.


Last Updated ( Monday, 27 February 2012 12:01 )  

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