06/05/2008, 00.00
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Dalai Lama leads prayer for Sichuan victims

Buddhist leader expresses his condolence to the Chinese government for the devastating earthquake. Together with the Tibetan government-in-exile he commemorates all the victims. In Tibet police surrounds monasteries, accusing “separatists” of preparing attacks.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Dalai Lama yesterday led his government-in-exile in a prayer ceremony for victims of the earthquake in Sichuan and sent a message of condolences to the government of China. In the latter the Buddhist leader said he was not seeking Tibet’s independence but only its autonomy, repudiated the violence that occurred in Lhasa earlier this year and reiterated the Buddhist belief in non-violence.

The ceremony was held at the Tsuglagkhang Temple in Dharamsala, India, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

A banner expressing Tibetans’ condolences for the Chinese people hit by the quake in Chinese (something very unusual for the area) was hung at the main entrance of the temple.

Samdong Rimpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, together with all the members and staff of the exiled government, attended the prayer service.

The choice of the date was significant. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. For some observers the ceremony “is a very strong positive message to China. And this can be interpreted as the kind of gesture China has been waiting for” to pursue a serious dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Still, the crackdown continues in Tibet. Yesterday was the first day of the month-long Sagadawa festival (which celebrates the birth of Buddha), and every monastery was surrounded by Chinese police.

The authorities justified the action by the need to counter “Tibetan separatists” whom they accused of preparing to take some violent actions against the government with monks’ complicity.

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