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Politics swirl over the Tibetan New Year

February 24, 2012 |  3:40 pm

Exiled Tibetans throw wheat powder.
In the United States, wedding-goers often throw rice; in Nepal, people are throwing wheat powder for the Tibetan New Year.

Every day WorldNow chooses a remarkable photo from around the world. Today this shot from Nepal caught our eye: Exiled Tibetans in Katmandu tossing wheat powder during the third day of Losar.

The New Year has become political for Tibetans. Exiled leaders are urging fellow Tibetans not to celebrate Losar this year, but instead to offer prayers for Tibetans under Chinese rule instead.

The Himalayan region is ruled by China, but its government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, contends that Tibet was colonized and wants more autonomy. On Tuesday, it staged a day-long hunger strike for Tibetans who died in self-immolation to protest against China or who were shot by police.

Tibetans say that the Chinese government has stepped up its intervention in religious affairs, forcing monks to attend "patriotic education" classes to study communism and renounce the Dalai Lama, Barbara Demick reported for The Times in January.

Exile groups say Tibetans are being forced to celebrate Losar by Communist Party officials, who have warned Tibetans not to boycott the festivities as the exile leaders insist.

Outside China, some Tibetans are marking the day with protests instead of celebrations: Thirteen Tibetans were arrested Friday after they tried to storm the United Nations office in Katmandu, demanding it help the Tibetan people, the Associated Press reported.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Exiled Tibetans throw wheat powder Friday during the third day of Losar, or Tibetan New Year, in Katmandu, Nepal. Credit: Niranjan Shrestha / Associated Press