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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetan Monks in Protest March

March 1, 2009


Buddhist monks in Qinghai stage a march and protest at the start of a
somber Tibetan New Year.

DHARAMSALA—More than 100 Tibetan monks in China’s western Qinghai
province have marked the Tibetan New Year, Losar, with a peaceful march
protesting Chinese government policies, residents and exiled Tibetans say.

“On Feb. 25, the first day of Tibetan Losar, the monks of Lutsang
monastery in Mangra [in Chinese, Guinan] county in the Tsolho [in
Chinese, Hainan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture marched in protest,” a
Mangra resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Once they reached the Mangra county center, they presented a list of
demands to the county officials,” the man said.

Details of the demands were unavailable, he said, though he described
the march as “peaceful” and aimed at upholding the “identity and
aspirations” of Tibetans.

Tibetans have largely boycotted traditional Losar festivities this year
in memory of Tibetans killed and jailed in protests against Chinese rule
throughout the region last year.

A former Lutsang monk, speaking from New York and citing contacts in
Mangra, said the march began at 6:30 a.m. More than 100 monks took part,
gathering first in small groups, he said.

“[They marched] from the Lhamo Yongdzin shrine to the Mangra county
center, a distance of about one mile.”

Four demands

“The monks had four main demands and wishes,” he said.

“First, China should understand the aspirations and thoughts of the
younger Tibetan generation. Second, China should understand that this
year’s boycott by Tibetans of Losar celebrations could be more
widespread than last year’s protests.”

“Third, the monks have offered their protest and a candlelight vigil as
a gift to all Tibetans everywhere,” he said. “And fourth, they pray for
the wishes of Tibetans to be fulfilled.”

The monks observed their vigil for about 30 minutes and then dispersed
at the urging of Tibetan community leaders and senior officials of the
monastery, said another former Lutsang monk, now living in India.

On Feb. 27, the local Public Security Bureau office posted a notice
calling on leaders of the march to surrender to Chinese authorities and
threatening to deal “severely” with those who fail to turn themselves
in, another source said.

“I have just learned that Lutsang monastery is now surrounded by a force
of the People’s Armed Police,” the source added. “No one is allowed to
enter or leave the monastery.”

Calls seeking comment from the Mangra Public Security Bureau office rang

Original reporting in Tibetan by Dukar Bum, Palden Gyal, and Chakmo Tso.
Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translations by Karma Dorjee.
Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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