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Tibet Unrest
China denies using brute force

Beijing, March 17
Fending off mounting global pressure, China today said it had shown “maximum restraint” without using brute force to quell the fiercest monks-led pro-independence protests in two decades in Tibetan capital Lhasa last week that claimed at least 13 lives.

Beijing, at the same time, vowed to deal “harshly” with the protesters who committed “serious crimes”, as the midnight tonight deadline for surrender to rioters neared amidst increasing international calls to Beijing, the host of the Olympic Games in August, to exercise restraint.

“We showed maximum restraint. We did not use lethal weapons. No guns were used. We only used tear gas and water canons,” Tibet autonomous regional government chairman Qiangba Puncog told a news conference, as he singled out the “Dalai clique”, groups associated with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, for violence that left at least 13 persons dead and dozens injured.

“Thirteen innocent civilians were either hacked or burnt to death,” he said, amidst reports that the protests by monks had spilled into neighbouring areas, but the top Tibetan official insisted he was not aware of it. The Tibetan government-in-exile had put the death toll in the unrest at about 80. Qiangba dismissed the higher toll figures of about “35 to 70 to 80 deaths” as baseless.

China, already under global watch over its human rights record and annoyed over attempts to link it with the Olympics, has come under a closer scrutiny ahead of the Games in Beijing from August 8 to 24, in the aftermath of the convulsions in Tibet.

The central government had made it clear to the police to perform their duties in “a civilised manner” and in accordance with the law, Qiangba said.

“I can tell you with full responsibility that the guns were not used at all,” Qiangba said and even denied the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was involved to tackle the riots.

“It is only yesterday and today that the PLA has been used to clean up the roads and maintain public order,” he said. Armoured vehicles and armed policemen with their overwhelming presence kept a close watch in the riot-scarred Lhasa to thwart any trouble. Qiangba said the situation in Lhasa was normal today.

Tibet came under tighter control as the entry of foreigners to the Himalayan region was prohibited by the authorities, citing “safety concerns.”

The tourists were also asked to leave. The regional government of Tibet has suspended handling the application of foreigners to travel to Tibet for “safety concerns,” a local official said. — Agencies




60 Tibetans detained in Delhi

New Delhi, March 17
As many as 60 Tibetans were today detained in the national capital as they attempted to storm the Chinese Embassy during an anti-China protest, police said. The protesters, raising anti-China slogans, tried to barge into the embassy building in the high-security Chanakyapuri area, a senior police official said.

The police stopped them from entering the embassy premises and took 60 of them into preventive custody, the official said.

Security in and around the embassy has been beefed up following a series of anti-China protests by Tibetans to express solidarity with their countrymen. Heavy police force was deployed around the embassy and police was keeping a tight vigil.

Some of the peripheral roads around the embassy have been closed for traffic and pickets have been set up to ensure that no unwanted person reaches the complex.

Meanwhile, a group of Tibetan students, who planned to hold a candlelight vigil at the India Gate were stopped from doing so by the the police.

On March 14, 50 Tibetans were detained when they tried to enter the Chinese Embassy premises forcefully. And on March 12, police had detained 36 Tibetan women. — PTI




Police beats protesters

Kathmandu, March 17
The UN in Nepal said on Monday, it was concerned that the Nepalese police could have used excessive force on unarmed Tibetan protesters and would investigate the assault of a monk that left the 30-year-old with head injuries.

The monk, Tseten Dorjee, managed to flee from Tibet to Kathmandu. But here the police in riot gear and wielding wooden batons beat him up in front of the UN headquarters for protesting against Beijing’s use of force on demonstrators in Lhasa.

Blood streaming down his face, the red-robe clad monk stood stoically on the street, surrounded by policemen and his peers, who raised slogans for a free Tibet. A spokesman from the office of the UN said the UN was concerned that “excessive force may have been used to disperse the protesters” in Nepal.




CPM silent on crackdown
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today chose not to condemn the Chinese government crackdown on Tibetans protesting against Beijing’s 57-year-old rule over Tibet.

The protests led by Buddhist monks have led to bloodshed and left many persons injured. “We cannot interfere in the internal matter of another country. It is an internal matter of China. Just as we don’t tolerate interference in our internal matters like what happens in Jammu and Kashmir, we don’t want to interfere. We expect others also to adhere to such standards,” said Sitaram Yechury, CPM leader in the Rajya Sabha. Yechury was cornered by mediapersons on his silence on the violation of human rights of protesting monks.




Resolve issue through dialogue: Pranab
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
India today took a rather bold step vis a vis China when External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha that the people’s unrest in Tibet be resolved through dialogue and non-violence. The Opposition staged a walk out over the government’s stand on the Tibet issue.

Mukherjee was responding to concerns expressed in the Lok Sabha, as members cutting across the party lines, raised concern on the brutal repression of protestors in Tibet. Mukherjee expressed distress over the “unsettled situation and violence” in Tibet and said the causes of trouble in the autonomous region of China should be resolved through dialogue and non-violent means. He informed the House that the government had already issued a statement in this regard.

When the Opposition walked out, Mukherjee said the policy on Tibet and China, which was formulated in 1959, remained the same and no government, including NDA, had changed it.

The Lok Sabha witnessed heated arguments during the Zero Hour today on Chinese crackdown on protestors in Tibet. Not surprisingly, the Left parties did not join the anti-China chorus as several parties talked of the “cultural genocide” in Lhasa. Members of the BJP, BJD, Samajwadi Party and RJD wanted India to condemn the violence and seek immediate intervention by the United Nations and the main Opposition even walked out.

BJP’s V K Malhotra, who raised the matter in the Zero Hour, alleged that Tibetans were being “massacred” in Lhasa and China was trying to “culturally finish Tibet”, even when the Dalai Lama is saying he wanted autonomy and not separation from China. Samajwadi Party’s Ramjilal Suman demanded that the government come up with its stand on the ‘violation of human rights’ in Tibet.



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