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Tibet turned into 'prison camp', says top exile

Published on Sep 25, 2012 3:05 PM

DHARAMSHALA, India (AFP) - The speaker of Tibet's parliament-in-exile on Tuesday accused China of turning the Himalayan region into a giant prison camp as he opened the biggest meeting of the Tibetan leadership in four years.

"A state of undeclared martial law continues to remain in force in Tibet," Mr Penpa Tsering said in an opening address at the conclave held in northern India. "(China) has converted Tibet into a territory resembling a prison camp. Over the past 60 years the Chinese government has continued to pursue a policy of assimilation designed to obliterate the ethnic identity of the Tibetan people."

"The situation in Tibet became so severely unbearable that to our knowledge thus far 51 people, our flesh and blood brethrens, have been driven to sacrifice even their very lives by setting themselves on fire. Forty-one have died."

The meeting comes ahead of an expected change in leadership in Beijing and is the first such gathering since the Dalai Lama passed on his mantle as political leader of the Tibetans to prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay.

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