Thu, May 22, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Top Tibetan exiles urge end to protests

AFP , DHARAMSHALA, INDIA

The Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile yesterday called for a temporary halt to protests against China as a mark of respect to quake victims.

The India-based government urged refugees to organize prayer meetings and even set up friendship groups in response to the May 12 disaster.

“In order to express our solidarity with the great natural disaster that befell on China, Tibetans across the world should shun staging demonstrations in front of Chinese embassies in the respective host countries they live in,” spokesman Thubten Samphel said, quoting from a statement issued by the exiled government.

The statement said protests should be put off “at least until about the end of May,” and also urged Tibetans to “write a letter, or send messages to the concerned, that they are doing so in solidarity with the quake victims.”

“Since it is very important for Tibetan exiles, or Tibetans living in the free world, also to join in this [relief] effort, we should initiate solidarity actions by organizing prayer meetings and raising donations,” the statement said.

The statement also called on “Tibetans living in other parts of the world to initiate ... collaborative activities, and explore possibilities of establishing Sino-Tibetan friendship associations.”

Tibet was rocked by unrest in March, and the government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans were killed and 1,000 injured in Beijing’s subsequent crackdown.

China says Tibetan “rioters” and “insurgents” killed 21 people and accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics.

Tibetan government spokesman Thubten Samphel said the Dalai Lama has expressed solidarity with the quake victims.

The statement came a day before radical Tibetan exiles were to kick off their rival “Olympics” in northern India with just a handful of sports.

Also see: Tibetan exiles set to stage their own Olympics in India

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