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Tibetans Asked to Stop Anti-China Protests Due to Earthquake

May 22, 2008

By Jay Shankar
Bloomberg
May 21, 2008 01:12 EDT

Tibet's government-in-exile called on protesters to halt demonstrations against Chinese rule in the Himalayan territory, in an expression of solidarity with victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

Tibetans across the world should stop protesting outside Chinese embassies at least until the end of May, the government said in a statement posted on its Web site. They should write a letter to the concerned authorities ``that they are doing so in solidarity with the quake victims.''

The government-in-exile, based in Dharamshala, northern India, says more than 200 people have been killed since protests against Chinese rule broke out in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and other regions on March 10. China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting unrest, says 18 civilians and one police officer died in March 14 riots in Lhasa.

Tibetan exiles have since staged regular demonstrations worldwide against China's crackdown on the protests.

The quake, China's strongest in 58 years, killed at least 40,075 people and injured 247,645, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the State Council, China's Cabinet.

China may take as many as 10 years to recover from the quake as the government relocates more than 12 million people left homeless by the disaster, according to World Vision, a Christian aid group.

Tibetans must undertake prayer meetings and raise donations for the victims of the quake, according to the statement.

Protests began in Tibet on March 10 when hundreds of monks marched in Lhasa calling for an end to religious restrictions and the release of imprisoned colleagues. The date marked the anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, after which the Dalai Lama, the Himalayan region's spiritual leader, fled to India.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay Shankar in Bangalore at jshankar1@bloomberg.net
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