October 21, 2020

Dalai Lama prays for Tibetans who self-immolated

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DHARMSALA, India (AP) — The Dalai Lama fasted and led prayers Wednesday to honor nine Tibetans who set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule, while Beijing criticized the Tibetan spiritual leader’s support as inciting “terrorism in disguise.”

The 90-minute-long service at the Dalai Lama’s Tsuglakhang Temple, in the northern Indian town where he lives in exile, focused on the monks, former monks and a nun who have self-immolated since March in a restive Tibetan area of western China that has been under martial law-type police controls.

Aged in their late teens and twenties, at least five died of their injuries, while the condition of the other four is not known.

At the service, the Dalai Lama led rhythmic prayers for the dead and suffering as Tibetans tended butter lamps. The newly elected prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, urged China to stop its tight controls on religion in Tibet and called on the United Nations to send fact-finding teams to the Himalayan region.

“We would like to appeal to the Chinese government to immediately stop its repressive policies in Tibet, and to resolve the issue of Tibet through peaceful means,” Sangay said.

The commemorations underscored how the immolations served to draw attention to the situation in Aba, a Tibetan community that has been a flashpoint for Tibetan unrest.

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