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Exiled Tibetans Celebrate Christmas In Dharamsala, Pray For Free Tibet

posted 25 Dec 2013, 04:18 by Mpelembe   [ updated 25 Dec 2013, 04:18 ]

Tibetans in Exile living in India's northern Dharamsala town soak in the spirit of Christmas revelry, as people of different religions come together and pray for a free Tibet.

DHARAMSALA, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA (DECEMBER 25, 2013) (ANI) - Tibetans in Exile living in India's northern Dharamsala town got soaked in the spirit of Christmas revelry, as people of different religions came together and prayed for free Tibet on Wednesday (December 25).

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Since 2009, more than 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China in protest against Beijing's policies in Tibet and nearby regions with large Tibetan populations. Most were calling for the return of the Dalai Lama.

People from different religions and international tourists gathered at St. John's church to celebrate Christmas.

"Many people have come here from different areas. They have come together. Tibetans, Hindus and people of all other religions have come here to celebrate," said the priest of the church, Ajay Singh.

Violence has flared in Tibet since 1950, when Beijing claims it "peacefully liberated" the region. Many Tibetans say Chinese rule has eroded their culture and religion. They are agitating for the Dalai Lama's return from exile in India, and genuine autonomy for their homeland.

The Chinese government denies trampling Tibetan rights and boasts of having brought development and prosperity to the region.

A Tibetan lady, Migma Yangki said that they were hopeful that Tibet would attain independence.

"I pray that my country soon gets freedom. I pray that Tibet soon gets independence," she said.

As shocking as the first suicides were, the people who chose to burn themselves did so, Tibetan scholars say, in reaction to specific instances of abuse at particular monasteries. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are often under surveillance and subject to raids by Chinese security forces.

Beijing considers the Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, a violent separatist. The Dalai Lama, who is based in India, says he is merely seeking greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

Tensions have mounted between Tibet and China since 2008, after riots that broke out in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibetan parts of China, which led to a government crackdown.