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Dalai Lama, battling exhaustion, cancels trips

August 28, 2008

From The Associated Press

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was suffering from exhaustion and has canceled two planned international trips to undergo medical tests, his office said Wednesday.

The 73-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner had been “experiencing some discomfort in the past couple of days,” a statement from his office said, adding that his doctors had diagnosed “exhaustion.”

The Dalai Lama just returned from an 11-day visit to France, capping an intense few months since the violent uprising against Chinese rule in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March and the subsequent harsh Chinese crackdown.

The Dalai Lama spends several months a year traveling the globe to highlight the struggle of Tibetans for greater freedom from China and to teach Buddhism.

He canceled two upcoming trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic and would rest over the next three weeks, said Thupten Samphel, the spokesman of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile.

Samphel said the Dalai Lama would travel to Mumbai for medical tests Thursday before returning to recuperate in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala, where he has had his headquarters since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after an abortive uprising against China.

“He has been going to Mumbai for regular health checkups on advice from his doctors for quite a long time,” said Samphel. He said all appointments and visits would be canceled for three weeks.

While the Dalai Lama is generally thought to be in good health, this is not the first time exhaustion has laid him low. In 2006, the globe-trotting Buddhist leader was grounded by his doctors because of exhaustion and canceled all his engagements for a month.

Since the outbreak of violence in Tibet, China has stepped up its campaign to vilify him, blaming him for recent unrest which Beijing says was part of a campaign to split the Himalayan region from the rest of China.

He has denied the allegations and says he only wants greater autonomy for the Himalayan region to protect its Buddhist culture.

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