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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan monks protest in restive West China report

March 2, 2009

Sun Mar 1, 2009 5:02pm IST
 
BEIJING (Reuters) - Tibetan monks in a restive area of western China
took to the streets calling for more religious freedom after they were
banned from holding a traditional New Year's prayer ceremony on Sunday,
activists said.

About 50 monks demonstrated outside the Sey Monastery in an ethnic
Tibetan part of Sichuan province that was roiled by violent protests
last year and where a monk set himself on fire on Friday, the Students
for a Free Tibet group said.

Earlier, a large group of monks had streamed into their main temple hall
to hold banned Monlam Chenmo prayers, a key part of ceremonies to mark
the Tibetan New Year, but those were broken up, said the group's
executive director Lhadon Tethong.

As they left the hall some went onto the street where they shouted
slogans calling for religious freedom. Police stopped the protests, the
monastery is now sealed and there is a heavy police presence, Tethong
said, citing witnesses.

Reuters contacted several local residents but was unable to confirm the
protest.

Many Tibetans have skipped traditional celebrations like fireworks and
new decorations as a low-key way of marking the anniversary of a wave of
unrest that spread across ethnic Tibetan areas of China last year.

But small demonstrations have flared up again in some areas.

On Friday, a young man in monk's robes set himself on fire after walking
out of the Kirti monastery, just a few kilometres from the Sey
monastery, State-run China Radio International reported, quoting Shi
Jun, head of the local branch of the Communist Party.

Activist groups said the monk was carrying a Tibetan flag with a picture
of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Gunshots were heard after he
was surrounded by police.

Next month also marks the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai
Lama, following a failed insurrection against China, and there is
intense security across Tibet itself and many neighbouring areas with
ethnic Tibetans.
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