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11 october 2011 001Tokyo, Japan: Tibetans and Japanese gathered in large numbers today at Joenji, a Japanese Buddhist Temple in Shinjuku, Tokyo, to remember and offer prayers for the two Tibetans who self-immolated on October 7 in Ngaba county, western China.

Many in the pro-Tibetan community regard Choepel, 19, and Khayang, 18, as martyrs who sacrificed their lives for freedom and justice in Tibet. The event was organised by the liaison office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia, Tokyo.

Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko, representative of the liaison office, spoke on the critical situation continuing in Tibet, especially in the Ngaba region of Amdo province. He said that suicide is a rare happening in Tibet, particularly by monks. He said the "fact that the monks are driven to commit suicide by self immolation, to knock [on] the door of justice, implies the gravity of situation and the extent of Chinese oppression in Tibet". He went on to say that such acts of martyrdom are a desperate reaction against fifty years of Chinese authoritarian rule in Tibet and from them, it is possible to understand what life under Chinese rule has been for all these years.

People paid respect and homage at the altar where the names and the photos of seven young Tibetans who have committed self-immolation since March 2011 were placed. The alter was adorned with traditional Tibetan white scarves and offerings of butter lamps. Tibetan flags were hoisted at the two sides of the altar to honor the martyrs.

Tibetans and Japanese together recited prayers and mantras with Rev. Kobayashi, Representative of Japanese Monks Federation for Tibet, leading a Japanese prayer. Some Japanese shed tears during the prayers.

University professors and young students were among the attendees. Some of them expressed exasperation over how Chinese security beat and mishandled the fire-engulfed monks without any compassion. A young Japanese woman while talking with her friends expressed surprise over how China, a self-proclaimed world power, could commit such bestial acts against innocent Tibetans while celebrating the centenary of republic day with great pomp and show. "If the Chinese people could boast of revolution hundred years ago, the Chinese as well as Tibetans have the same right to call for revolution now" was a message repeated at the gathering.

Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko thanked the participants for their support at the conclusion of the prayer session and informed the gathering about the recent statement issued by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the reincarnation issue, and the devolution of temporal authority of His Holiness to the elected Tibetan leader through popular mandate.

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