Supporters cheer Dalai Lama on 75th birthday

Tuesday 06 July 2010 09:33

The Dalai Lama celebrated his 75th birthday today with hundreds of cheering followers in Dharmsala, northern India, which has been his home since he fled Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

Looking at posters depicting his life as a child, a young man and a spiritual leader, the man who has come to symbolise Tibet's struggle against China said: "I remember my past and I feel that I haven't wasted these years."

In neighbouring Nepal, police detained at least 22 Tibetan exiles on their way to a celebration for the Dalai Lama, according to an Associated Press reporter who was at the police station in Katmandu.

Katmandu Police Chief Ramesh Kharel said the Tibetans were taken for questioning and would be released.

Prasad Dhakal, Katmandu district administration chief, said the government has banned and will not tolerate protests against what it calls all friendly nations, including China.

Mr Dhakal said the exiles would, however, be allowed to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday inside monasteries and refugee camps as long as the facilities did not contain slogans or banners protesting against China.

The Chinese government is highly sensitive about anything related to the Dalai Lama, whom it has accused of supporting independence for Tibet. Tensions in the region escalated after 2008 rioting in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, in which at least 22 people died.

Tibetans living in Nepal demonstrate regularly against China, but Nepal's government has repeatedly urged the Tibetan community to obey Nepalese laws.

Tibetan protesters are generally detained by police for few hours before being released.

In Dharmsala, young artists beat drums and played bagpipes and flutes as the Dalai Lama arrived at his temple to meet his followers.

The Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, raised the Tibetan flag as the musicians played the Tibetan anthem.

The Dalai Lama received gifts and traditional white scarves from his followers, sat through a cultural programme of songs and dances and watched an exhibition of Tibetan miniature paintings called Thangka.

"Even at this age, I find time for my Buddhist studies that give me strength, peace, happiness and keep me in good health," he said.

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