Tibetans’ risky journey into exile

Published on BBCnews, by Sally Ingleton, 10 November 2008.

(This World: Murder in the Snow will be broadcast on Monday 10 November at 1900 GMT on BBC Two. The programme is made by 360 Degree Films).

… Each year an estimated 2,500 Tibetans make the dangerous and illegal crossing through the Himalayas into India.

Many are young teenagers seeking freedom both in religious practice and in their education. A big incentive is the prospect of meeting their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.

In 2006 the plight of these refugees came to international attention when a group of mountain climbers witnessed and recorded Chinese border police opening fire on one group of pilgrims as they made their way across the Nangpa pass in the Himalayas, 18,000 feet (5,500m) above sea level.

Escape plan: Among this group were two teenage girls from Tibetan farms, 16-year-old Dolma Palki, and Kelsang Namtso, a 17-year-old nun …

… According to Xinhua, the soldiers were forced to defend themselves.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a press conference that “it is the responsibility of the Chinese border police to maintain peace and security.”

Jamyang later made a second attempt to leave Tibet by a different route. This time he was successful.

He now goes to school in India with Dolma and other refugees who made it out of Tibet. Jamyang hopes to qualify as a teacher and work for the Tibetan community in exile.

Like all refugees Dolma and Jamyang got the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama. He advised Dolma “that Kelsang died for a good cause and that her next rebirth will be a special one.”

She says his advice has given her tremendous strength in continuing her education and following her dream to become a nun, in memory of Kelsang (full text).

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