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Monday, October 16, 2006

Dollys? No Llamas! 

So how about a swimsuit competition for Tibetan independence?

Three years ago, at the tender age of 17, Metok Lhazey sat in solitary confinement in a pitch dark, filthy and horribly cramped Chinese prison cell in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

This weekend, the nervous 20-year-old is dreaming about being crowned Miss Tibet in a small but controversial beauty pageant held by Tibetan refugees in northern India....

The Miss Tibet beauty pageant is in its fifth year, a budget contest in small town of McLeodganj that attracts only a handful of contestants but plenty of controversy....

The reigning Miss Tibet was forced to withdraw from medium-level beauty pageants in Zimbabwe and Malaysia last year after objections from the Chinese, organizers say.

It has also irked conservative Tibetan Buddhists -- the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile here once famously called it "un-Tibetan" and "aping Western culture."

This year it even managed to irritate the Indians -- one young woman serving with a high-altitude Tibetan unit in the Indian army was forced to withdraw on the eve of the contest.

In an attempt to generate a little more publicity, the organizers threw the controversial "swimwear round" open for public viewing for the first time this year.

The Tibetan Womens Association expresses the ambivalence of many older Tibetans.

Anything that promotes the Tibetan cause is worth supporting, says president B. Tsering, even if she draws the line at Tibetan girls parading around in bikinis to a crowd of leering men.

"There are a few things we can take from other cultures, and some we can make do without," she said.

In truth, the girls looked a bit uncomfortable as they came on stage in bikinis Friday and were then presented with a microphone to talk politics and Tibet. But they all insist they are happy to demonstrate they have the body of a beauty queen.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

The times, they are a'changin... I say "you go, girls!"
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.
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