Dalai Lama leads Tibetans in special prayers

Hundreds of Tibetan monks and exiles gathered at a main Buddhist temple in a northern India hill-town to join their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama Sunday to offer prayers for Tibetans killed in Chinese crackdowns, dpa reported.

The Dalai Lama led the prayers at the Tsuglagkhang temple near his abode-in-exile in Dharamsala in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Religious leaders from the four main Tibetan Buddhist sects, the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile Samdhong Rinpoche as well as ministers and members of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile were present at the prayers.

"The prayers were held in memory of the Tibetans killed during Chinese crackdowns in Tibet. The event was basically to commemorate the March 8, 1989 imposition of martial law in Tibet and subsequent protests which China suppressed in Lhasa using brutal force," Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the Tibetan government said over telephone.

The ceremony also commemorated the March 1959 Tibetan uprising and the crackdown on Tibetans by Chinese forces during the anti-Chinese agitation last year.

"Special prayers were offered for those Tibetans who died during Chinese violence in 1989 and for those who are still suffering and jailed in prisons across Tibet," he added.

A number of events are being organized by the Tibetan government-in-exile to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising on March 10, 1959. It would also mark five decades since the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans fled to exile in India.

On March 7, Tibetan exiles began a five-day prayer session to pray for the long life of their spiritual leader. On March 10, the community has planned a number of rallies and prayers across India to mark the anniversary.

A total of 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, nearly 110,000 of them in 35 settlements across India. Six million Tibetans live inside Tibet.

Tibetans inside Tibet participated in large-scale protests against Chinese occupation in March last year, months ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games.

The government said 19 people were killed in the rioting but the Tibetan government-in-exile said up to 200 people were killed, most of them Tibetans shot by Chinese paramilitary police.

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