Medal for Lama sparked riots in Chinese state

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London, Nov.3: Tensions are still running high in the remote Labrang Monastery in China"s Gansu Province, almost two weeks after law enforcement officials and Tibetan monks clashed with each other following the Dalai Lama"s winning of an American award.

The clash took place on October 17 after hundreds of Tibetan monks from the Labrang Monastery ran out into the streets of Xiahe to celebrate their spiritual leader"s winning of the Congressional Gold Medal, the US's highest civilian honour.

Prior to their public demonstration, the monks performed a religious rite, intoning deep-voiced sutras.

The area is in the predominantly Tibetan Amdo region, and the monks in Labrang are afraid to talk, but take whatever opportunities they can get to get their message across.

Eyewitnesses, who cannot be named for fear of retribution, told of how the monks met stiff opposition from the police on the night of October 17.

The demonstration of support was a brave and significant display of dissent by the Dalai Lama's supporters in China and offers a rare insight into the tensions that exist between the three million Tibetans who live in Chinese territory outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the Chinese authorities who insist that Tibet is part of China.

Truck-loads of police and paramilitary police were called in to deal with the escalating situation. Fire fighters used hoses to clear the monks, shop owners were ordered to close their shops and foreign visitors were told to stay indoors, reports The Independent.

Police reportedly made four arrests, but the Living Buddha, who is third in rank in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, later had the monks released following a plea for calm.

Morale, within Tibet and in the Tibetan regions of China, has been boosted in recent months after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australia's Prime Minister John Howard met the Dalai Lama, greatly angering the Chinese.

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