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18thapril2011002Dharamshala- Members of the Tibetan Youth Congress based in the Himalayan town of Dharamshala have started hunger strikes in protest against Chinese inhuman treatment in Kirti monastery of Ngaba region of Tibet and in solidarity with monks. The peaceful hunger strike, organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress will launch a 24 hour relay strike, beginning on April 17th outside the Main Temple in Dharamshala; India.

The TYC are performing the protest in demand of the immediate withdrawal of Chinese military personnel from Kirti Monastery, Tibet. They want to allow monks to have basic human rights at the monastery, including religious freedom, and freedom of movement.

Kirti Monastery has faced the media spotlight over recent weeks. Phuntsok, a 20 year old monk from Kirti, self-immolated himself on the third anniversary of the historic uprising in 2008; and subsequently died. In response, the Chinese Government have launched the ‘patriotic re-education' campaign. They simultaneously deployed hundreds of military personnel into the monastery; despite protests from the local community and the residents of the monastery itself.

The situation in Ngaba is currently still highly tense. Military personnel have surrounded the Monastery, and erected a fence along with a high military presence. Monks are not allowed to leave, and pilgrims or visitors cannot enter. This has caused food shortages.

Between March 16th and April 12th, 17 monks, and 17 local residents have been arrested by Chinese authorities. The Tibetan Youth Congress also voiced that international pressure was needed to aid the situation. The TYC said:

"We strongly appeal to the United Nations and governments around the world to intervene and pressure the Chinese government to immediately withdraw its troops from Kirti Monastery; a place of worship".

"We will also write to the Embassies in New Delhi and other International NGOs. All the regional chapters of (TYC) are being instructed to organize a uniform campaign the world over".

Earlier this week the Dalai Lama urged for restraint in the standoff at the monastery, warning of ‘catastrophic consequences' which could lead to a clampdown from Beijing.

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