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President of Tibet in New Zealand to drum up support for 'Middle Way' with China

President of Tibet, Dr Lobsang Sangay in Dharamshala, India. Photo: TPI
Dr Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration, photographed at NZME on Monday. 01 May 2017. New Zealand Herald photograph by Nick Reed. The president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Dr Lobsang Sangay, wants Kiwis to support the Tibetan fight for autonomy from China.

"New Zealand got its freedom supported by others, and the values that it fought for, the basic values of democracy and human rights, are the values that we are fighting for," said Sangay, who is on his first visit to New Zealand.

"Now I am here to seek the support of the people of New Zealand to fight for the same basic rights for Tibet."

A legal expert born to refugee parents in India, Sangay was elected as Tibet's first sikyong, or president, in 2011 and was re-elected last year.

His father, a monk, fled Tibet in 1959 - the same year as the Dalai Lama.

Sangay's uncle was shot dead, and his pregnant aunt committed suicide by jumping in a river because she could not bear the daily injustices.

"The situation in Tibet is tragic, as we speak Larung Gar monastery is being destroyed," he said.

"From 12,000 monks and nuns, it will be reduced to 5000, many are forced to leave and made to sign a pledge never to return again."

Larung Gar, founded in 1980, is said to be the biggest Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world and attracts thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns to study there.

Pictures published by Free Tibet on Twitter and YouTube showed wooden buildings at the institute razed to the ground.

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