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China imposes New Border Restrictions in Tibetan Border Regions as Dalai Lama Launches India Teaching Event

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FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is seen in an undated photo. VOA

China, Jan 4, 2017: China imposed new border restrictions in Tibetan border regions Sunday, citing risks from terrorism, but the new measures also come as Tibetan’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, begins a popular Buddhist teaching event in India.

The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper reported Monday that the new measure is aimed at combating the risk of ‘terrorism’ and ‘separatism’ in the region. Critics say authorities frequently invoke such fears when imposing new security restrictions on Tibetans, and Tibetan exile news media say there are signs the measures are aimed more at preventing Tibetans from traveling than improving security.

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The new regulation was first announced in December by Tibet Daily, an official Tibetan language news outlet, which said it would take effect on January 1, 2017; however, the Tibetan language articles did not use the word terrorism as reason to make the restriction.

On December 15, Tibet Daily quoted Bagdro, the deputy head of Tibet border police force, as saying the “renewed” regulation focuses on restricting movements in border areas and stabilizing the region through economic and social development.

According to Tibet Post, a Dharamsala-based newspaper, the Chinese officials have confiscated passports of many Tibetans in Tibet in recent weeks.

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The Dalai Lama is beginning teachings known as the Kalachakra in Bodh Gaya, India on Tuesday. It is the spiritual leader’s most popular Buddhist teaching and is held at a holy site that’s believed to be where Buddha attained his enlightenment.

China has been showing particularly sensitivity to Tibetans from Tibet attending Kalachakra teachings in India by the Dalai Lama. According to Tibetan exile media reports, hundreds of Tibetans recently traveled to India, but the Chinese officials summoned them back to Tibet before the teaching began.

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In 2012, thousands of Tibetans were believed to have been detained upon returning from the Kalachakra teaching. Chinese officials did not reveal the number of detainees, but according to International Campaign for Tibet, about 8,000 people from Tibet had attended the teaching in that year.

Tightening controls in Tibetan border areas has long been backed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. In 2012, at the 18th Party Conference, Xi said, “To govern the nation, one must govern the borders; to govern the borders, we must first stabilize Tibet.” This statement has since been seen as the foundation of Xi’s Tibet policy. (VOA)

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Dalai Lama on Three Day Visit to Manipur

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Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama will be in Manipur on Tuesday. ians

Imphal, October 16: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will arrive here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to Manipur, officials said.

This will be his second trip to India’s northeast after his April visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told IANS on Monday that the government had declared the Dalai Lama a state guest.

“We will extend a warm welcome to him. He will be given all facilities as an honoured guest,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama will be given a public reception at the Convention Centre here. It will be followed by a felicitation programme at the same venue.

The Dalai Lama will interact with members of the public and dignitaries.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since fleeing his homeland in 1959, is coming to Manipur at the invitation of the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly.

His Arunachal Pradesh visit had sparked a diplomatic row between India and China.(IANS)

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Caste System is a form of Religious Discrimination, says His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Caste system exists not only in India but other regions of the world as well

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Caste System
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama. Wikimedia
  • The Dalai Lama has clearly stated that the practice of caste system is against religious beliefs of the individual
  • Speaking in Padum, Zanskar for the Avalokiteshvara, he urged the people to stop this practice
  • The caste system is a failed aspect of the feudal system in India, which no longer exists 

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: Speaking to his devotees at Padum, Zanskar for the Avalokiteshvara, His Holiness the Dalai Lama explained how caste system is a practice that discriminates against the individual’s religious beliefs.

The Dalai Lama also urged the people to stop using this practice. He explained that the practice of caste differentiation was an aspect of the feudal Indian society, which no longer prevails.

Caste system goes against religion. In fact, no religion in the world promotes or encourages caste differences.

ALSO READ: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama offers prayers for the victims of floods in Sri Lanka

The Tibetan spiritual leader reminded us that the feudal system was beaten by a democratic system. It is the high time people realize this.

He continued that just because one is from low class does not mean we should discriminate against them. No religion teaches that. Love is a common universal philosophy propagated by every religion. Gautam Budha was against discrimination 2,600 years before the caste system was even established!

The spiritual leader went on to say that practicing caste system is an open declaration of being against the Buddha and Dalai Lama.

More than 10,000 people attended the talk at Photang Teaching Ground, with many visitors from different parts of Ladakh and Zanskar. The devotees of the Dalai Lama offered long life prayers afterward in a ceremony called Tenshug.

Caste system goes against religion, says Dalai Lama Click To Tweet

It is estimated that more than 260 million people all over the world suffer from caste discriminatory practices, the majority of these people being in South Asia. The Dalits from India are often cited as the most familiar example. But caste system also exists in the Middle East, Pacific, and African regions.

The discriminated caste is subjected to inhuman conditions of economics and politics. The Dalits, for example, live in severe poverty and are more commonly identified as ‘untouchables’ in India. The dirty and ‘looked-down-upon’ jobs are mostly given to the Dalits.

Even when it comes to distribution of wealth and access to resources, the Dalits are served last.

Thus, the Dalai Lama’s powerful words against caste system were much needed. The message of peace and harmony was important, especially coming from a popular spiritual leader- the Holiness himself.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)