Tibetan Exiles In Indian Kashmir Protest Chinese Crackdown

26 March 2008
Associated Press

Srinagar: Some 60 Tibetan exiles protested outside the United Nations office in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday, calling for an international investigation into China's crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet. Their protest was peaceful, but Indian police prevented the protesters from entering the U.N. building in Srinagar to hand in a petition, police officer Pervez Ahmed said. After that, protesters returned to central Srinagar, where they waved Tibetan flags and banners reading 'Free Tibet' and 'Stop cultural genocide in Tibet.' There are about 1,000 Tibetan exiles in Srinagar, most of them Muslims. However, only Buddhists took part in Wednesday's protest. 'Tibetan Muslims are an integral part of Tibet and they are supporting this protest financially,' said Phuntsok Sangpo, a protest organizer. India is home to the world's largest Tibetan exile community, one that includes the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, and his governemnt-in-exile. India has generally allowed Tibetans to protest peacefully, but authorities have stopped some protests, saying they will not tolerate any actions that might embarrass China. The uprising in Tibet has been the broadest and most sustained against Chinese rule in almost two decades. It has embarrassed and frustrated China's communist leadership, which had hoped for a smooth run-up to the Beijing Olympics in August. Thousands of troops and police have been deployed to contain the unrest. The Chinese government says at least 22 people have died in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans have been killed, including 19 in Gansu province. Kashmir is divided, with both India and Pakistan claiming the Himalayan region in its entirety.