06/19/2006, 00.00
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Buddhist nuns arrested for calling for Tibet's independence

Chinese police arrested five people, including two nuns, for "publishing, keeping and distributing leaflets calling for independence in the province".

Lhasa (AsiaNews/RFA) – The Chinese authorities have arrested five Tibetans, including two Buddhist nuns, "for publishing, keeping at home and distributing leaflets calling for independence in the province."

Sources, which remained anonymous for security reasons, identified the five people: Kayi Doega, previously arrested in 2002 for "offering prayers for the Dalai Lama"; his eldest daughter Yiga, a Buddhist nun; Sonam Lhamo, a nun at a famous nunnery in Geci; and two other women, Sonam Choetso and Jampa Yangtso.

All five are natives of Karze, a traditionally Tibetan area administered by China's Sichuan province. They were arrested in early June, not far from their homes. After their arrest, they reportedly shouted: "Freedom for Tibet, long live the Dalai Lama".

Contacted by telephone, district police officials at first admitted "they were aware of the arrests", but later denied this.

China describes its occupation of Tiber, under way since 1950, as a "liberation that saved the Tibetans of the region from feudal oppression". Beijing formally created an autonomous Tibetan region in 1965 but the Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual and political leader of the region, claims that the central government has not granted genuine autonomy.

Tibet's government in exile is based in Dharamsala in India and it was formed by the Dalai Lama in 1959, nine years after the region was invaded by Communist troops. Although Beijing considers him as a traitor, very many Tibetans remain loyal to the Dalai Lama, who is held to be something between a king and a god.

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