Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tibetans unveiled an "independence torch" in anti-China protest

Several dozen Tibetans in India have unveiled an "independence torch" in New Delhi that will be carried around the world in an anti-China protest ahead of the Summer Olympics.

The torch was brought from the northern Indian town of Dharamshala - home to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and the government-in-exile.

The next stop for the protest flame is San Francisco, where the real Olympic torch is expected on April 9.

"This relay is to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. We also don't want the Olympic torch to go to Tibet because it is not a part of China," Tibetan Youth Congress president Urgyen Chophel said.

China has come under increasing international pressure over its crackdown against protesters in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and Chinese provinces bordering the Himalayan region.

Tibetan activist groups have put the death toll from weeks of unrest at 135 to 140 Tibetans. China says rioters killed 18 civilians and two police officers.

Protesters disrupted the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Greece last Monday.

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