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China locks down Tibet ahead of 50th anniversary

By The Rediff News Bureau
February 19, 2009 16:58 IST
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The Chinese government has ordered security forces in Tibet to crush any signs of support for the Dalai Lama, as the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan spiritual leader's escape to India draws near.
    
A conference of Tibetan leaders ordered authorities to maintain stability as China fears turmoil and protests ahead of the March 10 anniversary.
    
The Chinese have imposed a curfew and beefed up their security presence in Tibet's main cities. The campaign for the boycott of Losar, the Tibetan new year, has been spreading among the people of Tibet and some have openly called for a boycott of this year's festivities.

Reports said the curfew order was aimed at maintaining law and order for the 50th anniversary of social reforms introduced to supplant the Dalai Lama-led Buddhist system.
    
The Tibetan government-in-exile says the Chinese army killed 87,000 people in the 1959 crackdown.

Tibetans angry over China's suppression of peaceful protests rioted in Lhasa, in March 2008 causing widespread damage and resulting in the deaths of at least 18 civilians and one police officer. Since the  crackdown last year, all Buddhist monks have had to undergo 'patriotic education' classes and are forbidden from wearing their robes outside a monastery.

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