50th anniversary of Dalai Lama exile | Connect Asia

50th anniversary of Dalai Lama exile

50th anniversary of Dalai Lama exile

Updated 18 January 2012, 20:25 AEDT

On the eve of tomorrow's 50th anniversary of the failed uprising which saw the Dalai Lama flee Tibet, his family inside China have told Radio Australia that they miss him and want him to be allowed to return.

In an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year's clashes on the same anniversary China has built up police and military numbers across Tibet.

Presenter: Stephen McDonell

Dalai Lama family member

STEPHEN MCDONELL: In every Tibetan town and village there's tension in the run-up to tomorrow's 50th anniversary of a failed uprising here.

In 2008, the 49th anniversary of the event which sent the Dalai Lama into exile, produced a violent rebellion.

In 2009, the Government wants no protests, and, if they happen, for them not to be seen.

So up to a quarter of China's land mass is cut off to outsiders, and especially foreign journalists.

On the road to Tongren we came across a checkpoint where every car was stopped. Some officers wore helmets and carried automatic weapons.

They checked our identification and ordered us to drive back the way we came and return to Beijing. One officer said we shouldn't bother trying to return for the next month.

While we were there we saw two young Tibetan monks try to pass. They were taken off for questioning.

We were told that there's nowhere we're allowed to go in this region. But we drove in another direction and did find Tibetans to talk to.

We've been driving along next to frozen rivers and little clusters of houses made of mud, wood and straw. Off in the distance there's a massive mountain range covered in snow. We're now driving up a smaller mountain; when we get to the top, we'll reach the Dalai Lama's hometown.

When we knocked on the door of the house the Dalai Lama was born in we met his nephew's wife. She didn't want us to use her name.

I asked if tomorrow there could be a repeat of last year's events.

"It's not good to answer questions like this," she said.

"Do you miss him?" I asked

"I miss him every day," she said.

"Is it her hope that he could return?"

"I wish he could come back right now, we all miss him," she said.

When asked if the Communist Party might let him return, she said, "We're not allowed to talk about this", and warned that if we didn't go soon, the police would come and we'd be in trouble.

Has it been tense lately because of the 50th anniversary? "We aren't allowed to talk about this," she said, "So go quickly".

I asked a Tibetan man who'd travelled 800 kilometres to see this house if he wanted the Dalai Lama to come back.

"Yes," he said, "Because that would mean a better life for both Han Chinese and Tibetans".

Up here, military trucks by the dozen can be seen driving to trouble spots. They're packed full of soldiers, or paramilitary police carrying riot shields.

Last year's clashes caught the Chinese authorities by surprise. They've had 12 months to prepare for it this time and the Government has vowed there will be no repeat.

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