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<-Back to WTN Archives Tibetans clash with Chinese over fur bonfires
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Monday, February 20, 2006



7. Tibetans clash with Chinese over fur bonfires


By Richard Spencer in Beijing
Telegraph
(Filed: 20/02/2006)

Tibetan followers of the Dalai Lama have clashed with the Chinese
authorities after an unusual series of organised burnings of animal skins
and fur-lined clothes, campaigners said.

The Dalai Lama made a seemingly innocuous call last month for Tibetans to
stop wearing the skins of protected animal species. Tibetans have often worn
animal skins as decorations, and clothes lined with furs, including from
tigers, leopards and otters suddenly became fashionable in recent years.

The call was taken up with such alacrity that the Chinese saw it as a
political statement of support for the Dalai Lama, whose continued
popularity remains one of their greatest sore points.

According to the Wildlife Trust of India, which was shown a smuggled tape of
the burnings, nine people were arrested as the police moved in to put an end
to the bonfires. The group said "they were charged for public unrest and
colluding with the Dalai Lama".

Relations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama, who is living
in exile in Dharamsala, northern India, are in an uncertain phase. A group
of the Dalai's emissaries are currently in China, on what is assumed to be
part of a series of contacts between the Communist authorities, who accuse
the Dalai of wanting to "split" China, and the Tibet government-in-exile.

Supporters say the Dalai's statement about protected animals was not
intended to be political but a response to a series of calls from
environmental groups, concerned at an upsurge in the smuggling of rare
animal skins into China and Tibet.

The smuggling had caused anger in India, which has suffered from extensive
poaching of tigers and other wildlife. But the Tibetans responded with
enthusiasm.
"An estimated six hundred million yuan [Ł43 million] worth of animal skins
have been burnt in eastern Tibet alone," said Lobsang Choephal, the monk who
smuggled the videotape, in Dharamsala on Friday.

"These events are significant for us as they show the world and especially
China that Tibetans all over listen to the Dalai Lama and are willing to
make sacrifices if he wishes so," he added.

Reports say that hundreds of people have been digging through their
wardrobes for fur-lined garments.

Kate Saunders, of the International Campaign for Tibet, said bonfires had
been lit in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and on hillsides near monasteries in
Tibet and Tibetan-occupied parts of neighbouring provinces.

She said that finally the authorities had stepped in to ban a mass burning
planned at a monastery at the town of Rebgong, and added that she had been
told of eight arrests.

"They are letting them burn skins in their own homes, but the situation is
very tense," she said. "This is not going to go away."

She added that neither the Dalai Lama nor the Tibetans had political
motives.


Articles in this Issue:
  1. From Tibet to Jerusalem
  2. Compassionate visitor
  3. Dalai Lama visit to Bethlehem canceled to avoid China clash
  4. Dalai Lama meets chief rabbis, Muslim leaders
  5. The Dalai Lama Returns to Mount Scopus
  6. Dalai Lama: It's OK to want money
  7. Tibetans clash with Chinese over fur bonfires
  8. Tibetans set ablaze animal skin in HP



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