Tue, Jul 24, 2001 - Page 1 News List

China plans to build takeover monument at palace in Lhasa


China said yesterday it planned to build a huge monument celebrating the 50th anniversary of its takeover of Tibet at the Potala Palace, the first such structure at Lhasa's most famous landmark, formerly the Dalai Lama's winter residence.

The 35m high monument would "manifest the sublime spirit of the People's Liberation Army and their great contribution to the peaceful liberation of Tibet," the official Xinhua news agency said.

Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the Tibetan government exiled in Dharamsala, India, said the monument would be an insult to Tibetans, as they considered the so-called "liberation" an invasion.

"That's not appropriate, because the Potala Palace has special meaning for Tibetan people. For the Chinese government to install a monument in the Potala Palace will not go down well with the Tibetan people," Samphel said. "They may see this as bringing liberation for Tibet but from Tibetan people's perspective, it's been 50 years of untold suffering. To have this humiliation enshrined in the Potala Palace is a daily reminder of the humiliation for Tibetan people."

The vast, white-walled palace is the second most important building for Tibetans, after the Jokhang Temple, Samphel said.

The report did not say where in the Potala exactly the monument would stand, although a source said it was being planned for a square in front of the palace.

Xinhua said the monument was designed by Qi Kang, a professor at the Southeast University in eastern China, and was expected to be completed in November.

China seized control of Tibet in 1950 in what it considered a "peaceful liberation" and tried to legitimize its rule in 1951 with an agreement which the exiled Tibetan government does not accept because it was signed by Tibetan leaders under duress.

Beijing has ruled the region with an iron fist since, with human rights groups alleging human rights abuses and attempts to destroy Tibetan culture.

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