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Tibetans put off peace march to Lhasa

By
NEELAM JAIN

NEW DELHI, Feb. 24 -- Thousands of Tibetans postponed Friday their upcoming Peace March from New Delhi to Chinese-occupied Lhasa following a request from their leader. The dalai lama, spiritual and political leader to Tibetans, said even though the proposed march for which people volunteered 'risking possible arrest, beating and even one's life,' was for a just cause, but the timing was not right. The Tibetans will march for peace in their homeland and the world from Dharamsala -- headquarters of their government-in-exile -- to New Delhi, the leader said. The march will begin March 10 and the demonstrators will reach New Delhi on April 8, spokesman Lobsang Nyandak said. The postponed march, organized by Tibetan Youth Congress had caused widespread security concern among Indian authorities and declarations by the Chinese thay they will not allow any marchers into their territory. In his message released in New Delhi, the nobel-laureate leader, however did not ask his countrymen to cancel the planned march. 'I particularly feel that the undertaking is politically untimely,' he said. 'When the right moment arrives I will myself participate in such a movement.' The dalai lama fled Tibet in the 1950s after a failed uprising against Chinese rule of the region. China reasserted its control over Tibet in 1951 and a pro-Beijing communist government was installed in 1953. Exiled Tibetans in India accuse China of a systematic attempt to ruin their culture and Buddhist traditions. According to the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, China has been confiscating photos of the dalai lama and banning the sale of any likeness of the spiritual leader.

Additionally, leaders of Tibetan community say China is restricting educational opportunities for children in the region, besides holding hundreds of people in jails. 'In recent times the repression and political persecution in Tibet have reached a new peak since martial law was lifted in May 1990,' the dalai lama said Friday. However, since China itself was in a state of transition, the leader feared authorities may resort 'to another wave of merciless repression' to curb any peace march. 'I feel that the Chinese authorities will have no hesitatiion to ruthlessly exploit this opportunity to destroy the Tibetan freedom movement inside Tibet,' he said. Despite the planned march being non-violent, it could have led to possible confrontations with Indian and Nepalese authorities, which the dalai lama said his community could not risk because of the support from the two countries.

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