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Two Workers Ordered Out of Tibet

August 17, 2000

BERLIN (AP) _ Two European aid workers were expelled from Tibet after their work restoring traditional Tibetan homes and Buddhist temples ran afoul of Chinese authorities, German and Portuguese officials said Wednesday.

Andre Alexander, the German founder of the Tibet Heritage Fund, and a Portuguese colleague, Pimpim de Azevedo, were ordered out after a ``misunderstanding″ over the nature of their work, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

German officials are lobbying their Chinese counterparts to let Alexander and de Azevedo, who flew to Beijing on Sunday, return to Tibet, the spokesman said.

Human rights groups say China has stepped up a campaign to undermine Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, who fled after troops crushed a popular uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

The Tibet Heritage Fund employs about 270 local craftsmen and workers to build and repair houses and temples using traditional materials in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. The German government donates about $230,000 a year to the Tibet Heritage Fund. Other backers reportedly include the French government and Britain’s Prince Charles.

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