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Tibetans rally against Chinese oppression

Hundreds of Tibetans from Switerland and across Europe staged a demonstration in the Swiss capital Berne on saturday evening. It marked the 41st anniversary of the 1959 uprising against China's occupation of Tibet.

This content was published on March 11, 2000 - 10:10

Hundreds of Tibetans from Switerland and across Europe staged a demonstration in the Swiss capital, Berne, on Saturday. It marked the anniversary of the 1959 uprising against China's occupation of Tibet.

Around 750 demonstrators joined the rally, which ended outside the Chinese embassy. Speakers urged the international community to step up political pressure on China.

A message from Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was read out to mark the occasion. In it, he drew a sombre picture of conditions in the country, but emphasised his readiness to enter into a dialogue with the Chinese authorities.

Campaigners say Chinese oppression in Tibet is growing. At present, they believe at least 600 political prisoners are being held in the country, and over 11,000 monks have been forced to abandon their way of life.

The youngest prisoner is only 10 years old. In his message, the Dalai Lama said he was very concerned for the child's welfare.

The organisations taking part in the the demonstration say the Swiss government should bring more pressure to bear on China. Allowing Beijing to become a member of the World Trade Organisation, they say, should be considered less important than improving China's record on human rights.

Nearly 90,000 Tibetans died, and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee abroad, after the 1959 uprising. Many other Tibetan exiles found refuge in Switzerland.

Swissinfo and agencies

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