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Dalai Lama sees China crackdown in Tibet New Year

February 25, 2009

Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:13pm EST

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama
urged his countrymen on Tuesday not to be provoked by any Chinese
military crackdown coinciding with the Tibetan New Year this week.

With this year marking the 50th year of his exile, the Dalai Lama said
there had been a build up of Chinese military forces in Tibet.

"The strike-hard campaign has been re-launched in Tibet and there is a
heavy presence of armed security and military forces in most of the
cities," he said in a statement on his website.

"In all the places those who dare to come out even with a slight hint of
their aspirations have to face torture and detention," he added, saying
Tibetans should not give in to provocations.

"The intention and aim behind them are to subject the Tibetan people to
such a level of cruelty and harassment that they will not be able to
tolerate and thus be forced to remonstrate," he said.

"When this happens the authorities can then indulge in unprecedented and
unimaginable forceful clampdown."

Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama, who is now
based in northern India, fled the mountainous region in 1959 after a
failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Demonstrations by monks in Lhasa in March last year escalated into
deadly riots and triggered protests against Chinese rule within Tibet
and across the world, particularly in the run-up to the summer Olympics
in Beijing last August.

China has blamed last year's unrest on the Dalai Lama, whom it regularly
brands a "splittist" or separatist. The Dalai Lama denies the charge,
saying he is only seeking greater autonomy.

(Reporting by Alistair Scrutton and Abhishek Madhukar in Dharamsala;
editing by Michael Roddy)
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