Tibetans mark new year under shadow of immolations, mostly Buddhist monks

February 22, 2012

(Monks gather to pray at the Labrang monastery prior to Tibetan New Year in Xiahe county, Gansu Province February 21, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria )

Tibetans in China marked a tense traditional new year with prayer, the sounding of a gong and subdued defiance on Wednesday, in the wake of a string of self-immolations and protests against Chinese control.

The traditional new year, or “Losar,” is a combination of Buddhist ceremony and family celebration observed across the Tibetan highlands of western China.

But this year, unrest has overshadowed the celebrations and there has even been a call from an exiled Tibetan leader for people to shun festivities and instead pray for those who have suffered under Chinese rule.

At least 16 Tibetans are believed to have died after setting themselves on fire in protest since March, most of them Buddhist monks in Tibetan parts of Sichuan and Gansu provinces, next to what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Read the full story by Michael Martina here.
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If China continues its “strike hard” policy in Tibet, China will increasingly lose face to the rest of the world. They will also have lost an incredible opportunity and potential to be world leaders in a meaningful way. At the same time all nations who maintain relations with China and who do not use economic leverage to address the issues with the Tibetans are, in my view complicit.

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