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Tibetan Exiles Report Crackdown by Chinese Authorities Over Dalai Lama Celebrations


Tibetan exiles have reported a crackdown by Chinese authorities on Tibetans celebrating a U.S. award honoring the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy told VOA Tuesday that monks clashed with police who entered one of Tibet's largest monasteries to break up a prayer ceremony in the Dalai Lama's honor.

The center's Tashi Choephel said 3,000 policemen surrounded Drepung (Mandarin: Zhaibung) monastery on October 17, the day the Dalai Lama received the award.

The Dharamsala, India-based center says Chinese authorities arrested one monk from the monastery, which is located on the outskirts of Lhasa. It says five other Tibetans were arrested after offering prayers to the Dalai Lama in western China's Gansu and Sichuan provinces.

Last week, President Bush personally presented the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the U.S. Congress can bestow and called on China's leaders to open talks with the Dalai Lama. China protested the award and said the United States had gravely undermined bilateral relations.

China also summoned Washington's ambassador in Beijing to deliver a strong protest over the ceremony honoring the Dalai Lama.

In his remarks, the 72-year-old Buddhist monk reiterated his desire for the Tibetan people to have meaningful autonomy within China - which accuses him of seeking independence for Tibet.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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