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Tibetan exiles to leave on 6-month protest march from India into Tibet

March 10, 2008

DHARMSALA, India, Mar 10, (AP) - Hundreds of Tibetan exiles prepared
to leave Monday for a six-month march from India to Tibet to protest
Beijing's hold on the Himalayan region and China's hosting of the Olympic games.

Tibetan exile groups said the march will be one of several protests
around the world during the buildup to the to the Aug. 8-24 Beijing

The groups say Beijing's preparations for the Games come at a time
when China is attempting to stamp out Tibetan Buddhist culture and
increase the government's presence in Tibet.

«This is a people's march,» Lobsang Yeshi, one of the coordinators,
said Sunday of the planned six-month trek. «It could potentially be
our biggest protest since we came into exile in 1959. We are
determined to go home and nobody could stop us from doing that.

Hundreds of members of several exile groups plan to depart from
Dharmsala in northern India on Monday _ the day Tibetans commemorate a
failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

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

«We are determined to go home and it's our right to do so,» said
Lhadon Tethong, president of the Students for a Free Tibet,
International Chapter. «There is no better way for Tibetans to
demonstrate that we belong to Tibet.

Organizers said they had not yet determined the route for the march.
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