Tibetans in exile protest in Dharamsala as Olympic torch passes through Lhasa

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Dharamsala, June 21 : Tibetans in exile in Dharamsala took out a protest march as the Beijing Olympic torch passes through the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Saturday.

The protest organised by the members of Students for Free Tibet (SFT) saw scores of Tibetans raising slogans and enacting scenes of alleged Chinese atrocities on their fellow citizens in Tibet.

Many of them carried posters urging the Chinese authorities to stop atrocities against Tibetans.

"You will see they are very few in numbers but the numbers doesn't matter. We have been saying that even if there is only one Tibetan, the struggle for Tibetan will remain. We will be there and we will struggle against whatever the brutal Chinese has been doing in Tibet. Even though we are less in number, we will do anything. There is an impact and there will be people who support us," said Tenzin, Students for Free Tibet, Executive Member (SFT).

They said that China has no right to stage Olympic torch relay in Lhasa for allegedly violating the basic principle of Olympic.

"We are here to bolster the hands of Tibetan people in their fight for freedom from the Chinese occupation and today we did this street theatre depicting the condition in Tibet because today the Olympic torch has been paraded in Lhasa," Shibayan, Tibetan Protestor from Kolkata.

The Beijing Olympic torch passed through Tibet's capital Lhasa in a two-hour display of Chinese national unity that organisers hoped would wipe aside memories of unrest there three months ago.

The Beijing Olympic Games torch has never been far from controversy, and never more so than in its run through the streets of this 3,650-metre (12,000 feet) high city.

Police and troops lined the streets, carefully watching the groups of residents chosen to cheer on the torch. Groups of students waved Olympic banners, the Chinese national flag, as well as the hammer and sickle banner of the ruling Communist Party.

The relay was drastically shortened to around one third of the 27 kilometres first planned, authorities claiming that its brevity was out of respect for the victims of China's devastating earthquake, not because of security concerns.

Nonetheless, the rings of guards surrounding the torch itself were a constant reminder of the authorities' concern over potential unrest.

The Lhasa leg of the torch relay had 156 torch bearers altogether, including 75 ethnic Tibetans and 77 Han Chinese.

The relay began under tight security at Luobulinka, a traditional square, where Tibetan mountaineer Googbu held the flame aloft, and it arrived two hours later at the Potala palace, the traditional seat of power of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader.

Tibetans have been staging series of protests in the year of Beijing Olympics in an attempt to draw international attention towards their cause.

Tibetan diaspora all over the world are seeking an end to Chinese rule in Tibet and have staged a wave of protests across the world especially at Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and also the seat of Tibetan government-in-exile.

The Dalai Lama is pressing world leaders to urge China to ease the crackdown on Tibet and his envoys held talks with officials in China last month, but Beijing blames the rioting on the India-based Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader.

ANI

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