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Tibetan New Year marked with protest in Tibet

February 16, 2010

By Kalsang Rinchen
February 15, 2010

Mundgod, Karnataka, February 15 -- A sit in
protest by around 400 Tibetans on the first day
of the Tibetan New Year led to a standoff between
the Tibetan protesters and Chinese security forces in Ngaba County.

The Tibetans sat at the main market square and
ate dry Tsampa and breads in a symbolic
expression of a mournful New Year, according to
the Emergency Coordination Committee of the Kirti Monastery in exile.

The monks and laypeople said prayers and threw
Tsampa in the air to mourn the killings of
several Tibetans in the 2008 protests all over
Tibet. The monks sitting at the protest are from
Ngaba Kirti Monastery and Sey Monastery.

As tension escalated, Duedul Trulku of Kirti
monastery’s religious affairs body arrived at the
protest site and urged everyone to return home to
avoid any untoward incidents but his requests
fell on deaf ears. Later, they asked the monks of
Kirti monastery to return to their quarters but
monks of other monasteries and laypeople joined the protests.

The Chinese soldiers confiscated mobile phones of
people who took video and pictures of the
protest. Tension has been looming large on Ngaba
County since the 29th day of the closing year
that saw a large gathering of Tibetans at a
special religious dance amid tight security.

At the time of this report going online the army
had blockaded the routes to the square to prevent
Tibetans from outside to join the protests.

"The Tibetans in Ngaba are showing the Chinese
government that they are not celebrating the New
Year the way the government wants but observing
it to mark their respects for the Tibetan martyrs
who laid down their lives for Tibet," said Tenzin
Choeying, the president of the India chapter of the Students for a Free Tibet.

Tenzin Tsundue, Tibetan independence activist
said that the protest in Ngaba is a display of
absolute resilience of the Tibetans inside Tibet.
"It is also a demonstration of solidarity and
respect for those Tibetans who gave up their tomorrow for our today."
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