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Exiles plan to march into Tibet from India to protest Beijing Olympics

January 8, 2008

By Ashok Sharma

3:43 a.m. January 4, 2008

NEW DELHI - Hundreds of Tibetan exiles will attempt to march from 
India across the border into Tibet to protest China's hosting of this 
year's Olympic Games, an exile group said Friday.

The march will be one of a series of protests in India before the 
Aug. 8-24 Beijing Games, which the exiles say are being prepared amid 
China's continued attempts to subvert Tibetan Buddhist culture and 
strengthen Beijing's hold on the Himalayan region.

"The Chinese have said in the past that Tibetans are welcome to 
return home, so we are going to test that," said Tsewang Rigzin, 
president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which is organizing the march.

Rigzin said hundreds of members of his organization would depart from 
Dharmsala in northern India on March 10 - the day Tibetans 
commemorate a failed uprising against the Chinese in 1959.

Dharmsala has been a center for exiles since the Tibetan Buddhist 
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled there after the uprising and 
set up a government in exile.

Rigsin said the marchers intend to try to cross the border and walk 
all the way to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. He would not give details 
on the route of the march, and it remains unclear what sort of 
reception the marchers would receive from the Chinese authorities.

The Tibetan Youth Congress, which takes a more radical line in its 
protests against China than the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government in 
exile, said it had not consulted the Dalai Lama over the protests.

The group called on all Tibetans to use peaceful means to protest the 
Games and Chinese plans to have the Olympic torch carried through Tibet.

Beijing insists that Tibet is historically part of China, but many 
Tibetans argue that the Himalayan region was more or less independent 
for centuries.

Exiles have recently expressed concern about rising numbers of Han 
Chinese migrating into Tibet, especially since a railroad route 
opened up in 2006.
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