Tibetan exiles make pilgrimage to Mt Fuji

MT.FIJI:Tibetan exiles and their Japanese supporters made a pilgrimage up Mount Fuji today to pray for world peace and call for freedom for themselves and other minorities in China.

“Today there are a lot of problems in China, not just in Tibet but also in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia,” said Lhakpa Tshoko, the Japan and East Asia representative of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

“The nature of suffering we are enduring is the same, so we are also praying for our brothers and sisters in those regions,” he said.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, after sending troops into the Himalayan region the previous year. The Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The worst unrest in Tibet in years erupted in the regional capital Lhasa in March 2008. Deadly disturbances also broke out last month in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region between mainly Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. At Mt Fuji, about 50 Tibetans, Mongolians and Japanese supporters yesterday started the trek. Bad weather prevented them from holding a sunrise prayer ceremony today on the summit of the 12,390-foot high mountain, but they later performed religious rituals on the flank of the volcano. “We chose Mt Fuji because it is a very important mountain, loved by the Japanese and revered in the Shinto religion,” said Lhakpa Tshoko.

The Dalai Lama plans to visit Japan in October.