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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Tibet anniversary: Contrasting views
Group of Tibetan children outside a school in Lhasa
Tibetan exiles speak of continuing misery
China's official media has used the 50th anniversary of the take-over of Tibet to trumpet the "great social progress" made in the region and denounce the activities of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Under the headline "Agreement Brings Tibetans Prosperity," the China Daily newspaper said the signing of the agreement which formalised Chinese rule 50 years ago had resulted in the "peaceful liberation" of Tibet.

I can say with confidence that Tibet, and particularly the capital, Lhasa, is under some sort of undeclared martial law.

Tibetan representative Migyur Durjee
It slammed the Dalai Lama, who is currently in Washington for a meeting with President George W. Bush, for continuing to seek Tibetan independence and denying the region's "march into modernity".

However, Tibetans in exile paint a different picture.

London Tibet representative Migyur Durjee told BBC's News Online that what was coming from China was "mere propaganda".

He said harsh suppression of Tibet's religious rights continued unabated, and the region led "exactly the same lifestyle" as 50 years ago.

'Forced celebrations'

Reporting from the Tibetan capital Lhasa, the official Xinhua news agency said the Tibetan people were celebrating the anniversary "by raising five-star flags and streamers on their roof-tops."

"Tibet is immersed in a festival atmosphere today," Xinhua said.

It said more than 5,000 people had gathered in the square in front of the "brightly lit" Potala Palace for a flag-raising ceremony.

But Mr Durjee said under communist China people were forced to participate in "stage-managed celebrations" for fear of repression at the hands of the authorities.

"I can say with confidence that Tibet, and particularly the capital, Lhasa, is under some sort of undeclared martial law... People are not free. Given a free hand they may not turn up for the occasion," Mr Durjee said.


The China Daily said the Dalai Lama frequently talks about Tibet's independence and "pours dirt upon the social, economic and cultural development of Tibet over the past half century".

"The Dalai Lama likes to talk about the rights of the Tibetans. But the truth is that under his rule and the rule of the old Gaxag local Tibetan government 50 years ago, more than 95 per cent of Tibetans were serfs and slaves without personal freedom from birth to death," it said.

Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is currently on a visit to the US
Tibet's government-in-exile London envoy Migyur Durjee denied there had been any notable progress.

"Tibet is not Lhasa. If you go to rural areas you hardly find any health service or educational facilities," he said.

He went on to accuse the Chinese authorities of "deceit" similar to communist propaganda during the Cold War.

"You cannot expect a true story coming from a regime dominated by communist ideology," Mr Durjee said.

The people of Tibet had to corroborate Chinese statements of progress, he said.

Human rights

"The peaceful liberation of Tibet laid a solid foundation for strengthening national unity and building a prosperous new China," the chairman of the regional people's government, Legqog, told the celebrating crowds in Lhasa.

Tibetan monks
Monks in Tibet are one of the government's targets
But Mr Durjee said repression continued. He said numbers of clergy were being cut, people risked imprisonment solely for being in possession of a picture of the Dalai Lama and thousands of political prisoners remained in jail.

To illustrate Tibet's "lack of freedoms", he mentioned the escape from Tibet last year of Karmapa Lama - the teenage boy who is the third most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism and who was recognised by both China and the Dalai Lama.

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See also:

23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
White House visit angers China
28 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China intensifies anti-Dalai Lama campaign
02 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Dalai Lama to meet activist
27 Apr 01 | South Asia
Boy Lama breaks his silence
15 May 01 | South Asia
Nepal assurance over Tibetan exiles
12 May 01 | South Asia
China warned over India 'threat'
09 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
China renews attack on Dalai Lama
03 Nov 00 | South Asia
Concern over Tibetans in Nepal
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