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September 24, 2017

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Youths lead Tibet freedom fight: leader-in-exile

DHARMSALA, India -- Young Tibetans are leading the fight to free their homeland from Chinese rule, the leader of the community's government-in-exile said on Monday's 55th anniversary of an uprising that led to a bloody crackdown and drove the Dalai Lama to flee into India.

It is not easy for young Tibetans still living in Tibet — isolated from cousins, friends and former neighbors who have gone into exile in countries around the world, Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay said. Those who remain and remember how Tibetan National Uprising Day began in 1959 are aging.

Within Tibet since 2009, 126 people have set themselves on fire to protest China's heavy-handed rule. Many have been Buddhist monks and nuns calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama.

"It is the younger generation of Tibetans in Tibet who clearly and loudly demand their identity, freedom and unity," Sangay told flag-waving exile Tibetans and their supporters in Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama and the exile government are based.

"Tibetans inside Tibet will have no memories of traditional Tibet, while Tibetans outside of Tibet will know only a life lived in exile," Sangay said.

The crowd of more than a thousand people cheered during Sangay's speech and waved colorful flags emblazoned with the words, "Tibet for Tibetans."

During a slow, 6-mile (10-kilometer) march through town, they shouted "Long live the Dalai Lama" and "Free Tibet."

The 78-year-old spiritual leader, who handed his political powers over to the democratically elected Sangay in 2011, did not attend Monday's gathering in Dharmsala.

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