Miss Tibet slams China over expulsion from pageant

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Miss Tibet 2006 Tsering Chungtak gestures as she speaks to the press in front of Tibetan flag

Miss Tibet 2006 Tsering Chungtak gestures as she speaks to the press.

A Tibetan contestant barred from participating in a Malaysian beauty pageant blamed China on Wednesday for her exclusion from the international event.

Tsering Chungtak, who flew back to the Indian capital on Tuesday from the pageant venue in Kuala Lampur, said organisers ordered her to wear a sash marked "Miss Tibet-China" or withdraw from the contest.

"They gave me just two options and it was a nightmare," Chungtak said, adding the organisers told her they were under Chinese pressure to force her to take off her "Miss Tibet" sash while participating.

"I did not go to Malaysia with a political agenda. I was there to spread friendship," the 22-year-old New Delhi sociology student told a news conference.

Chungtak was crowned Miss Tibet in 2006 in the northern Indian hilltop town of Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan government-in-exile and residence of 1989 Nobel peace laureate the Dalai Lama.

In 2005, Miss Tibet Tashi Yangchen too was barred from the Malaysian pageant after Chinese officials complained that a woman who lives in India cannot represent a part of China.

This year's pageant, which has drawn contestants from 30 countries, began on November 24 and the finals are to take place on Friday.

"I refused to comply because the Tibetan issue is far from resolved... I simply broke down in tears," said Chungtak,

"I was not expecting this to happen a second time," the young woman said tearfully.

The Tibetan spiritual leader fled to India in 1959, nine years after China crushed an anti-Beijing uprising in Tibet and occupied the Himalayan region sandwiched between India and China.

Envoys of the Dalai Lama and China have conducted four rounds of exploratory talks on rapprochement since 2002.

Many young Tibetans now say the Dalai Lama's non-violent campaign for greater autonomy in their homeland is not enough and that the international community must bear down on Beijing to speed up the negotiations.

Copyright AFP

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