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Dalai Lama raises concern about monastery crisis
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Apr 15, 3:45 PM (ET)


NEW DELHI (AP) - The Dalai Lama on Friday asked the international community to persuade the Chinese leadership to exercise restraint in handling the latest troubles at a blockaded Tibetan monastery in western China.

The Kirti monastery, housing nearly 2,500 monks, has been completely surrounded since March 16 by Chinese armed forces, who at one point prevented food and other vital supplies from entering the monastic compound, the Tibetan spiritual leader said in a statement.

"I am very concerned that this situation if allowed to go on may become explosive with catastrophic consequences for the Tibetans in Ngaba," the Dalai Lama said.

He described the situation as extremely grim because of the stand off between the Chinese military forces and the local Tibetans.

The tensions are the latest troubles at Kirti monastery, which has seen recurring unrest against Chinese rule for the last three years. A 20-year-old monk at Kirti set himself on fire last month in protest against Beijing, making his death a focal point for local anger and setting up the latest round of tensions.

"Instead of putting out the flames, the police beat the young monk, which was one of the causes of his tragic death," the Dalai Lama said Friday.

This act, he said, created huge resentment among the monks, which resulted in the blockade of Kirti monastery.

Local Tibetans, fearing that the siege at Kirti Monastery was a prelude to large-scale detention of the monks, have surrounded the soldiers blockading the monastery and have occupied the roads to prevent Chinese trucks and vehicles from entering or leaving Kirti, the Dalai Lama said.

"In view of this I urge both the monks and the lay Tibetans of the area not to do anything that might be used as a pretext by the local authorities to massively crackdown on them," he said.

"I also strongly urge the international community, the governments around the world, and the international non-governmental organizations, to persuade the Chinese leadership to exercise restraint in handling this situation," he said.

The Dalai Lama has been living in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala, the seat of his government-in-exile, since he fled Tibet amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1958.

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