Tibetans to forego New Year celebrations; Dalai Lama hails decision

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Dharamsala/ Nainital, Feb 25 (ANI): The Tibetan government-in-exile has said that the spiritual leader Dalai Lama in his New Year message has hailed the determination of Tibetans to forgo the celebrations amid allegations of fresh crackdown in Lhasa.

Thubten Samphel, secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations, told reporters here that Dalai Lama endorsed the Tibetans' decision.

"It is very appropriate not to engage in any celebratory activities. At the same time, His Holiness said that the Chinese Government in Tibet has re-launched their strike hard campaign, which is to increase surveillance of any activities of Tibetan people, and to increase troop deployment in all the big major cities in Tibet," said Samphel.

Samphel further added that Dalai Lama has appealed Tibetans in Lhasa to conserve their strength and not to give-in to the Chinese leaders.

"His Holiness said that in view of this strong determination on the part of the Chinese leaders, to stop any activity. His Holiness said that Tibetan people must show restraint and patience and not to give into any provocative act on the part of Chinese leaders," said Samphel.

An overseas rights group earlier this month said Chinese forces had detained up to 24 Tibetans for taking to the streets shouting support for the Dalai Lama. Local police denied any knowledge.

The protests were sparked by the arrest of a Tibetan who called for a boycott of New Year celebrations, the group said.

The Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala plans hunger strikes and protests to mark the New Year.

Meanwhile, Tibetan exiles in Nainital closed their shops and organised mass prayers for peace in Tibet.

"We want that present situation in China and Tibet should improve and peace prevail there. That is the reason, we organised this prayers session," said Yasin Thupen, a Tibetan leader.

This year's anniversary is extra sensitive in Tibet as 2009 also marks the 50th anniversary of flight into exile of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. (ANI)

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