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Tibetans Call Temporary Halt to Anti-China Protests

  • Stephanie Ho

The Tibetan government-in-exile is calling on Tibetans, around the world, to help raise donations for victims of last week's massive Chinese earthquake that has already killed more that 40,000 people. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

Lhakpa Tssoko is the Tokyo-based East Asia representative for Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in Dharamsala, India.

Tssoko says, following last Monday's earthquake in southwestern China, the Tibetan government in exile issued guidelines to all Tibetan offices around the world.

"Since it is very important that Tibetan exiles or the Tibetans living in the free world also to join this effort, we should initiate solidarity, organizing prayer meetings and raising donations," said Tssoko.

He says another part of the Tibetan effort is a temporary halt on anti-China protests.

"It also says that in order to express our solidarity, with the great natural disaster that befell on China, Tibetans also should shun staging demonstrations in front of Chinese embassies in the respective host countries, at least until about the end of May, this year," he said.

Tssoko says he does not know if the Tibetan government-in-exile has sent messages of condolence directly to the Chinese government. He says the Dalai Lama has conducted a special prayer ceremony for the quake victims.

Tssoko said the Tibetan community has a special link to the disaster zone, because the Chinese areas hardest hit also have large ethnic Tibetan populations.

Tibet is always a sensitive issue in China, but became more so recently following violent riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March. Afterwards, Tibetan activists protested and created chaos along the international route of the Beijing Olympic torch relay.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for orchestrating the bloody Lhasa riots and has repeatedly accused him of seeking independence for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama says he does not want independence for his homeland, but only greater cultural and religious autonomy.