April 28, 2008 / 3:28 PM / 11 years ago

Tibetans mark deaths of protesters in China

By Bappa Majumdar

NEW DELHI, April 28 (Reuters) - Thousands of Tibetan exiles in India and Nepal, including their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, marked the deaths of protesters during last month’s violent upheaval in Tibet with prayers and traditional funeral rituals

China lashed out at the Dalai Lama again, accusing him of manipulating opinion and governments in the West, just days after offering talks with his aides. China said he had plotted the unrest in Tibet.

In Dharamsala, the northern headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, around 3,000 Tibetan monks and others attended special prayers called by the Dalai Lama in memory of those killed in Tibet.

Hundreds sat silently as the Dalai Lama led the prayers, officials said.

Many Tibetans laid food in the courtyard from biscuits to bananas in memory of those killed, witnesses said.

In New Delhi, hundreds prayed and chanted till nightfall on Monday. Some angry protesters wearing "Free Tibet" T-shirts shouted anti-China slogans, officials said.

In Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu, maroon-robed monks and nuns with shaved heads led a march of about 5,000 people holding candles. The marchers walked from a Buddhist temple to a United Nations office.

Monday marked the 49th day since the March 10 protests in Lhasa, which triggered a violent response from Chinese security forces.

"The 49th day after the death of a soul has a special meaning in our belief and bears special significance in our culture and religious heritage," The Nepal Tibetan Solidarity Forum said in a statement.

"We, by our silent march and prayers, observe this day with great reverence to the departed souls," it said.

Police walked alongside the protesters, many of them old Tibetans in traditional attire.

Nepal has seen almost daily anti-China protests, which police initially broke up with beatings. But, of late, they have been using little force in the face of criticism from rights groups such as Amnesty International.

More than 20,000 Tibetans have lived in settlements across mountainous Nepal since fleeing their homeland after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

"CLIQUE"

China has blamed the exiled Buddhist leader’s "clique" for unrest across Lhasa and other Tibetan areas, which it says was aimed at upstaging the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

But after an international diplomatic chorus urging dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Beijing abruptly announced on Friday that it intended to meet his aides in the next few days. China’s barrage of criticism has continued, however.

"After five decades of life in exile, the Dalai clique has learned how to cater to the West by flaunting human rights, peace, environment protection and culture, among others," the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Monday.

"But they never say a single word about the inhuman serfdom in Tibet under their rule," it said.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama is deceiving foreigners when he tells them he did not plot last month’s unrest in Tibetan capital Lhasa, and that he supports the Beijing Olympics, Xinhua said.

"Some rioters who surrendered themselves to police confessed that the Dalai clique is the mastermind of the riots in Lhasa," it added.

Pro-Tibet demonstrators have dogged the global leg of the Olympic torch relay, each time promoting angry reactions from Beijing.

The latest invective from China suggests the government is not prepared to give ground in talks proposed for coming days.

There have been six rounds of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama’s envoys since 2002 with no breakthroughs. (Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in Kathmandu and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Bill Tarrant)



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