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Miss Tibet slams China over expulsion from pageant

December 6, 2007

NEW DELHI December 5, 2007 (AFP) — A Tibetan contestant barred from
participating in a Malaysian beauty pageant blamed China on Wednesday
for her exclusion from the international event.

Tsering Chungtak, who flew back to the Indian capital on Tuesday from
the pageant venue in Kuala Lampur, said organisers ordered her to wear a
sash marked "Miss Tibet-China" or withdraw from the contest.

"They gave me just two options and it was a nightmare," Chungtak said,
adding the organisers told her they were under Chinese pressure to force
her to take off her "Miss Tibet" sash while participating.

"I did not go to Malaysia with a political agenda. I was there to spread
friendship," the 22-year-old New Delhi sociology student told a news

Chungtak was crowned Miss Tibet in 2006 in the northern Indian hilltop
town of Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan government-in-exile and
residence of 1989 Nobel peace laureate the Dalai Lama.

In 2005, Miss Tibet Tashi Yangchen too was barred from the Malaysian
pageant after Chinese officials complained that a woman who lives in
India cannot represent a part of China.

This year's pageant, which has drawn contestants from 30 countries,
began on November 24 and the finals are to take place on Friday.

"I refused to comply because the Tibetan issue is far from resolved... I
simply broke down in tears," said Chungtak,

"I was not expecting this to happen a second time," the young woman said

The Tibetan spiritual leader fled to India in 1959, nine years after
China crushed an anti-Beijing uprising in Tibet and occupied the
Himalayan region sandwiched between India and China.

Envoys of the Dalai Lama and China have conducted four rounds of
exploratory talks on rapprochement since 2002.

Many young Tibetans now say the Dalai Lama's non-violent campaign for
greater autonomy in their homeland is not enough and that the
international community must bear down on Beijing to speed up the
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