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Tibetans rally to mark anniversary
Exiles begin global rallies to mark 50 years since failed uprising against Chinese rule.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2009 04:16 GMT

Protesters in the US gathered near the White House before marching to the Chinese embassy [AFP]

Tibetan exiles have kicked off worldwide rallies outside the White House marking the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising that led to the exile of the Dalai Lama.

Hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters rallied in front of the White House on Monday with cries of "Free Tibet!" and anti-China slogans.

In the Tibetan regions in China, the authorities were enforcing a lockdown to prevent a repeat of rioting that took place a year ago.

For the past few weeks, Chinese security forces have set up checkpoints at entryways into the region, implemented a ban on many tourist areas and restricted access for journalists.

In Washington DC, hundreds of exiles holding Tibetan and US flags bowed their heads in Lafayette park facing the White House at 16:00 GMT on Monday - midnight in Tibet on March 10, the day 50 years ago that the Dalai Lama fled – before marching to the Chinese embassy.

Tibet: Key dates



1950 Chinese forces invade Tibet

1959 Dalai Lama flees to exile in India after failed uprising against Chinese rule

1960s-70s Hundreds of monasteries destroyed during Chinese Cultural Revolution

1965 China announces creation of Tibet Autonomous Region

1989 Dalai Lama awarded Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent struggle for Tibet

 2006 Opening of first rail line linking Tibet to rest of China

 2008 Crackdown in Lhasa following anti-China protests to mark 1959 uprising

Similar rallies were expected around the world on Tuesday, including in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala where the Dalai Lama and his government live in exile.
 
Also on Tuesday, the US congress was to vote on a non-binding resolution that would call on China to "cease its repression of the Tibetan people, and to lift immediately the harsh policies imposed on Tibetans".

The bill, authored by Rush Holt, a Democrat, also urges China to respond to initiatives of the Dalai Lama to find a lasting solution on Tibet.

China brands the Dalai Lama a "splittist" bent on separating Tibet from China, but the Tibetan spiritual leader says he only wants autonomy for Tibet within China, and greater freedom to practise the region's form of Buddhism.

The Dalai Lama sneaked out of Lhasa on March 10, 1959 after China cracked down on an uprising against its rule.

Tibet's government-in-exile says that more than 80,000 people died between March and October of 1959 alone and that at least 200 more were killed last year when Chinese security forces clamped down on protests marking the anniversary.

China denies that it used violence to stop anniversary commemorations last year, saying instead that rioters were responsible for nearly two dozen deaths.

Source:
Agencies
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