01/27/2009, 00.00
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Tibetans not celebrating new year, in memory of massacres in 2008

by Nirmala Carvalho
Instead of celebrations, there will be silence and prayer vigils in memory of the Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces in 2008. An appeal to Tibetans all over the world.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Groups of Tibetan exiles living in India announced today that the traditional celebrations for the Tibetan new year will not be held. Instead, there will be silence and prayer to commemorate the more than 200 Tibetans killed by the Chinese army during the protests in March of 2008.

February 25 will be the first day of year 2136, the Year of the Ox, according to the Tibetan lunar calendar. The Tibetan new year, or Losar, is a major communal celebration that lasts at least 3 days (in the photo: a characteristic moment of the celebrations). But this year, it will be observed in silence, and in temples and homes butter-fueled lamps will be lit, and prayers will be recited for the victims. This year, Losar falls from February 25-27, shortly before March 10, 2009, the 50th anniversary of the Chinese repression that in 1959 forced the Dalai Lama into exile. And it's one year after the 2008 protests that were violently repressed: since then, Tibet has in practice been under martial law, with travel restrictions for Tibetans and for foreign journalists.

B. Tsering, president of the Tibetan Women's' Association, explains that the intention is to "honor the sacrifice of countless Tibetans who rose up to show China and the world that even after 50 years of brutal occupation, Tibetans are determined to regain our freedom."

The venerable Ngawang Woebar, president of the Gu-Chu-Sum movement for political prisoners, confirms that "by not celebrating Losar, we are honoring all those Tibetans who have died in the past year for the freedom of our homeland. We call on Tibetans worldwide to join us in re-dedicating ourselves to the cause of our nation."

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