Tibetans angry over Chinese pressure on Miss Tibet

WebIndia123 (ANI) 12 July 2005

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Dharamshala: Tibetans living-in-exile here have expressed shock and anguish after their beauty queen withdrew from an international pageant, Miss Tourism contest currently being held in Malaysia, following pressure from China.

Tibetans say China insisted that she compete as "Miss Tibet-China".

Tashi Yang Chen, 24, who is studying for an MBA in London, was crowned Miss Tibet at a contest in Dharamsala last year and was preparing to participate in the contest.

In 2002, first Tibetan beauty took part in the Miss Tourism contest, and won it. But since then no Tibetan has been able to do so.

Organisers say they are unwilling to compromise on Chinese demands.

"It's strange for us and amazing. We couldn't speak to organisers, it is something unbelievable and they are out of their minds. We told them that we cannot accept the title Miss Tibet-China because it's a political issue and we cannot go for the same," said Nawang Samdup, organiser of Miss Tibet pageant.

Tibetans say such international pageants give them a platform for identity and support for the Tibetan cause.

Dolma Gayri, Deputy Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, said the contest created an awareness in the young Tibetan community.

"What is important is that as young Tibetans who have been working on Miss Tibet contest in spite of different views on the contest itself in the Tibetan community, their very intention was to be able to have that Tibetan identity and I think they are doing well in that ground," she said.

Traditional Tibetans disapprove of the public display of women. Most women in the conservative Tibetan society wear ankle-length skirts and long-sleeved blouses.

Some elders including the spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have supported the contest and said that it would bring youngsters close to modern world and boost confidence of Tibetan girls.

More than 150,000 Tibetans have taken refuge in India since 1959 when the Dalai Lama and his followers fled their homeland, after an abortive uprising against China.

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