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No Tibetan protest, despite foreign rumors, official says

AN official in southwest China's Sichuan Province said yesterday that a ritual held on Sunday by dozens of lamas in the Se Monastery was a case of normal religious activity, and not a "Tibetan monks protest" as reported by some foreign media.

Shi Jun, secretary of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture Committee of the Communist Party of China, said lamas in the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan enjoy full freedom in practicing religious beliefs.

"Having elected a lama to the post of a monastery administrator, known as tiebang lama - literally translated 'iron-rod lama' - on Sunday, lamas with the Se Monastery were overjoyed and congratulated the lama on his success," the official said.

In accordance with Tibetan Buddhism, tiebang lama is in charge of the monastery roster and overseeing discipline within the monastery.

"This was a normal religious activity but had been distorted as a Tibetan lamas protest by some foreign media with ulterior motives, we are indignant toward the distorted news reports based on hearsay and are disappointed at those western media which have long touted they are observing 'objectivity and fairness' in news reporting," said Shi.

According to foreign media reports, Buddhist monks in Aba started to protest on Sunday morning when officials stopped them as they gathered to pray.

The reports cited the International Campaign for Tibet, based in Washington DC, and said security forces had surrounded the monastery and cut telephone lines.


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