DHARAMSALA, India (AFP) — Chinese police used force to suppress Buddhist monks' celebrations in Tibet's capital of a hugely controversial US award for the Dalai Lama, exile groups in India said.
They said police arrested scores of monks and Tibetan activists, over four days in Lhasa last week, who attempted to celebrate the awarding of the United States' highest civilian honour on the exiled spiritual leader.
Beijing said the award by President George W. Bush had "gravely undermined" US-China relations.
The clashes were centred at the Drepung and Nechung monasteries in Lhasa which were sealed to keep the thousands of monks inside and away from the public, according to sources in the Tibetan government-in-exile who did not wish to be named.
There was no immediate word on injuries, the sources said.
China sent troops to "liberate" Tibet in 1951. The Dalai Lama later fled to India in 1959 with his followers after a failed uprising and established a government-in-exile in the northern hill town of Dharamsala.
The exile sources said Internet services in Lhasa were cut on October 17, the day the award was presented and reports of the clashes filtered out slowly.
The initial clashes began after police questioned monks who were ceremonially whitewashing the walls of Drepung monastery on the day of the award, the sources said.
The honour for the Dalai Lama is viewed by China as a challenge to its strict rule over Tibet as the spiritual leader remains popular.
In recent years, he has backed off from pushing for Tibetan independence, campaigning instead for the Himalayan region to have "genuine autonomy."
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