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19-october-2011-prayers-fast-2Dharamshala: - Dr Lobsang Sangay, the political head of the Central Tibetan Administration, this morning said the Tibetan people have been undergoing untold suffering for the 60 years since communist China's occupation of Tibet. Speaking during a 24-hour mass prayer and fasting event in Dharamshala, northern India, Dr Sangay said that, although China masks its activities with propaganda, it actually practices colonialism and the systematic destruction of Tibetan culture, religion, language and the environment.

The prayers and fasting are being held as a gesture of solidarity with the nine Tibetans who have self-immolated since last year, and with those suffering incarceration for speaking up for the rights of the Tibetan people.

The event is also being attended Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, and Kirti Rinpoche, head of Kirti Monastery in India.

Below is a transcript of Dr Sangay's speech:

"For the last 60 years since communist China's occupation of Tibet, the Tibetan people have been undergoing untold suffering.

"Through its propaganda, Beijing shows a different image, but in reality China practices colonialism and the systematic destruction of the unique Tibetan culture, religion, language and environment and, because of this, Tibetans have peacefully demonstrated time and again.

"Particularly in 2008, Tibetans from all walks of life and from all three provinces of Tibet rose against Chinese rule by calling for freedom for Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

"These demands were made clear not only to the Chinese leadership but to the international community as well.

"Sadly, the Chinese government, instead of seeking truth from facts, continues to hold a hard-line position and has driven the Tibetan people to a desperate situation.

"The Tibetan religious community is particularly hard hit, as so-called work teams have been sent into monasteries and nunneries to promote political indoctrination.

"As a result of these repressive measures, since March this year the situation in Ngaba, Tawu and Serthar, etc, has turned critical as many people have either been detained, arrested or imprisoned.

"To date, nine young Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against the hard-line policies of the Chinese government, and to demand freedom for Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"They are: Lobsang Phuntsok, 21, from Kirti monastery, Ngaba, who set himself on fire on March 16; Tsewang Norbu, 29, from Nyatso monastery in Tawu, who self-immolated on August 15; Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok, both from Kirti monastery, who set themselves on fire on September 26; Kelsang Wangchuk, 17, also from Kirti monastery, who set himself on fire on October 3; Khaying, 20, and Choephel, 19, former monks of Kirti monastery, who self-immolated on October 7.

"On October 15, another former monk of Kirti monastery, Norbu Damdul, set himself on fire. On October 17, Tenzin Wangmo, 20, from Dechen Choekhorling Nunnery, Ngaba self-immolated to protest against Chinese rule."

"Five of these young Tibetans have died. The condition and whereabouts of the
other four are unknown.

"Therefore, the Kashag [cabinet] is holding a day-long special prayer service, coinciding with Lhakar [‘White Wednesday,' or His Holiness the Dalai Lama's ‘soul day'], in solidarity with those Tibetans who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet, and particularly those who self-immolated, their families and those suffering repression in Tibet.

"Therefore we pay homage to their courage and stand in solidarity with their indomitable spirit.

"As requested by the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibetans in exile are organising activities in their respective places. The Kashag would like to request every Tibetan and Tibet supporter to carry out their activities peacefully and in accordance with local law.

"We would like to appeal to the Chinese government to immediately stop its repressive policies in Tibet, and to resolve the issue of Tibet through peaceful means.

"We would like to appeal to the United Nations to send fact-finding delegations into Tibet.

"We would also like to request [China] to allow free access to the media so that the international community could know the real situation in Tibet.

"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for leading this special prayer service and for taking part in the fast.

"We would also like to extend our gratitude to His Eminence Gyalwang Karmapa and His
Eminence Kasur Kirti Rinpoche, and thank everyone present here today.

"Finally, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Tibet and pray for the earliest resolution of the issue of Tibet."

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