Protests planned in Brussels as Dalai Lama marks 50 year struggle

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Dalai Lama to speak out in Dharamshala 50 years after failed uprising.

DHARAMSHALA - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will address his community of exiles Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against China that forced him to flee to India.

Prayers, vigils and protests were planned throughout the day in Dharamshala, the northern Indian hill town where the Tibetan government-in-exile has been based since the Buddhist leader fled his Himalayan homeland in 1959.

The gathering also comes exactly a year after another violent uprising against Beijing prompted a massive security clampdown in the remote region.

The Dalai Lama, who is 73, is scheduled to make a special address at 9:00am (0330 GMT), which will be broadcast live on the Internet to exiles and supporters around the world.

Tens of thousands of supporters have packed the town for the event, which comes at a time when the Tibetan government-in-exile is being forced to re-examine its struggle against Beijing.

The Dalai Lama's steadfast campaign for patient dialogue with "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet has come in for criticism, with critics pointing out that eight rounds of talks between his envoys and China since 2002 have yielded no progress.

Critics says the Dalai Lama must harden his stand, particularly after the riots that erupted last March in Tibet that according to the exiles here left 200 protesters dead.

China says police killed one "insurgent" and blames Tibetan "rioters" for 21 deaths.

"The Dalai Lama remains our leader but it is for the Tibetan government to do more for our struggle," said B. Tsering, president of the powerful Tibetan Women's Congress, one of the more radical groups.

Chinese troops entered the devoutly Buddhist region in 1950 to "liberate" it from feudal rule, according to Beijing, but Chinese control there remains widely unpopular.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of seeking to split the Himalayan territory from China. But the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has repeatedly said he is only pursuing autonomy for Tibet.

"For the last 50 years we have been living in India as exiles and there is some heartburn now," said Tenzin Norsang, general secretary of the influential Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), which wants outright independence for Tibetans.

Tibetan lobby groups are mustering supporters to launch protests after the Dalai Lama's address on Tuesday.

"Up to 10,000 people will join our movement, which aims to escalate tensions with China," said Tenzin Choeying, president of Students for Free Tibet, which also campaigns for independence.

"Anything can happen, as these protests will be spectacular," he said on the eve of the anniversary. "We intend to embarrass China."

The Tibetan Youth Congress' Norsang said a rally in the Indian capital followed by a hunger strike by Tibetans would coincide with the Dharamshala events.

"We are holding similar protests at the European Union parliament in Belgium and elsewhere in the world," he added.

Pratap Chakravarty/AFP/Expatica

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