03/28/2009, 00.00
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For Tibetans in exile, the "end of slavery" is nothing but propaganda

In Lhasa and Beijing, great celebrations and proclamations of the "liberation" brought by the Communist Party to Tibet. In Dharamsala, today is a day of protests and mourning. Beijing pressures India to block the "political activities of the Dalai Lama."

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Today the Chinese authorities launched their annual Day of "freedom from slavery," to commemorate the Chinese victory over a Tibetan revolt that, 50 years ago, sent the Dalai Lama into exile. But in Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile, today is being lived as a "day of mourning," and Beijing is being accused of conducting "propaganda."

In Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, about 10,000 pro-Chinese Tibetans gathered in front of the Potala, the former residence of the Dalai Lama, to celebrate the anniversary, red flags flying. Zhang Qingli, the local secretary of the Communist Party, asserted that the Chinese Communist Party has brought "democratic reforms unprecedented in human history to the Tibetan highland."

Yesterday evening, at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Panchen Lama selected by China, Gyaincain Norbu - who is viewed unfavorably by the Tibetans - thanked the Chinese Communist Party for giving him "clear eyes for judging what is true from what is false," and praised Beijing's policies on Tibet as "an historic leap in Tibet's social system."

There were also some testimonies from Tibetans who once had been servants in the monasteries and for the Tibetan nobility, and who received "liberation" with the Chinese invasion.

The Day of "liberation from slavery" was created by Beijing this year, after the revolts one year ago, which were repressed with violence and with thousands of arrests. Tibet has been under martial law for months in preparation for the Day.

For the Tibetans in exile, these 50 years have been "years of oppression," during which Tibetans "continue to suffer unimaginable religious, political, and cultural repression." For this reason, today in Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile, tens of thousands of exiles gathered for an entire day of protests, organized by the Tibetan Women's Association, Students for a Free Tibet, and by the Tibetan Youth Association. "The day of 'liberation from slavery' sponsored by Beijing," one of them says, "is a heavy-handed campaign of propaganda to convince the world that Tibetans are happy under Chinese rule. But no propaganda can hide the fact that these have been 50 years of servility."

Recently the Dalai Lama himself recalled the "series of repressive and violent campaigns" conducted in Tibet by Beijing. "These," he said, "have thrown Tibetans into the depths of suffering and hardship, making them live hell on earth. The first result of these campaigns has been the death of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans." Speaking in Dharamsala, on the anniversary of his flight, the Buddhist leader added: "Still today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant terror . . . Their religion, culture, language, identity are close to extinction. The Tibetan people have been branded as criminals, who deserve only to be put to death."

Yesterday, Zhang Yan, the Chinese ambassador to India, asked New Delhi at a press conference to "not permit the Dalai Lama to carry out political activities on Indian soil, in the best interests of bilateral relations between the two countries."

For some time, China has been threatening economic consequences for all countries that host the Dalai Lama or let him speak.

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