Tibetans In China Boycott New Year In Protest In the Tibetan areas of China, whether to celebrate Tibetan New Year, which began Wednesday, has become a politically loaded decision. This time last year, violent anti-Chinese protests swept across the Tibetan plateau.
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Tibetans In China Boycott New Year In Protest

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Tibetans In China Boycott New Year In Protest

Tibetans In China Boycott New Year In Protest

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Louisa Lim slipped into one town, where protests erupted last year, and found a mood of quiet desperation.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND)

LOUISA LIM: Unidentified Man #1: (Speaking foreign language)

(SOUNDBITE OF CONCH-SHELL TRUMPET)

LIM: Our hearts feel sad. People suffered so much, says one monk I'll call Zhaxi(ph). He was speaking in Tongren where monks held three separate protests last year.

ZHAXI: (Through translator) One night they arrested 250 monks here. They used wire to bind their wrists together. One was sentenced to death. Some got five years or 10 years in jail.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

LIM: Today, everything seems calm. Although there is a police presence on the streets. But beneath the surface the tensions run deep. Zhaxi talks of undercover security agents disguised as monks stationed in the monasteries. And he talks of his hatred, not toward Chinese, he stresses, but towards the Communist Party.

ZHAXI: (Through translator) The government pressure on us is very high. We are too terrorized, so we become monks. At least we have a belief. It's not good to hate that much.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

LIM: In four monasteries I visited, pictures of the Dalai Lama were clearly displayed. This is a symbol of resistance to Chinese rule. The heightened security means protests are less likely this year. For one monk who I'll call Cerdan(ph), openly showing the Dalai Lama's picture has become a test of will.

CERDAN: (Through translator) Even if there are problems, we'll display his picture. Even if they kill us, we'll display it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

LIM: Unidentified Man #2: (Speaking foreign language)

LIM: On this topic, Mr. Wang's(ph) view is typical of many Chinese. He thinks Tibetans should be more grateful.

WANG: (Through translator) There are a lot of policies that favor Tibetans. But under the instigation of a minority, they want independence from this good country. They shouldn't do that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)

LIM: Louisa Lim, NPR News, Tongren, Qinghai Province, China.

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