Thursday, March 20, 2008

Still More on Tibet

From the AP, via Huffington Post -- it appears that the protests have spread to other Chinese provinces.

China acknowledged for the first time Thursday that anti-government riots that rocked Tibet last week have spread to other provinces, while communist authorities announced the first group of arrests in connection with the violence.

The moves came as the government sent armed police into far-flung towns and villages to reassert control in the Tibetan areas of western China as sporadic demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet continued to flare up.

A top Beijing Olympics official vowed the unrest would not disrupt plans for the torch relay preceding this summer's Olympics in Beijing. One leg of the relay is to pass through Tibet, taking the flame to the peak of Mount Everest sometime in May.

The official Xinhua News Agency said "riots in Tibetan-inhabited areas in the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu, both neighboring Tibet." It blamed both incidents on supporters of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

The Xinhua report confirms previous claims by exile Tibet activist groups that the protests had spread. Foreign journalists have been banned from going to Tibet and stopped by police from entering areas in other provinces large with Tibetan populations.

The Tibet Daily reported that 24 people had been arrested for endangering state security, and for other "grave crimes" for their roles in last Friday's riots in Tibet's capital, Lhasa.

"This incident has severely disrupted the social order, harmed people's life and property, and these illegal acts organized, pre-planned, and well-designed by the Dalai clique," Lhasa deputy chief prosecutor Xie Yanjun was quoted as saying.

"We have to strike the aggressive criminals on the basis of facts guided by law," he said.

Xinhua said late Wednesday that 170 people had surrendered for their role in last week's riots in Lhasa. China says 16 people were killed, denying claims by Tibetan exile groups that 80 died.

Read more

ABC News is reporting that the Dalai Lama would meet with Chinese authorities in an effort to end the violence if there is some evidence of pregress on the part of the Chinese.

The Dalai Lama says he's willing to meet with Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao.

But Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader said Thursday he would not meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing unless there was "a real concrete development." He said he would be happy to meet them elsewhere.

Chinese officials have accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of organizing violent clashes in Tibet in hopes of sabotaging this summer's Beijing Olympics and promoting Tibetan independence.

Reuters is reporting massive arrests of protesters.

Tibet authorities said on Thursday they had arrested dozens of people involved in a wave of anti-Chinese violence that has swept the mountain region and prompted Beijing to pour in troops to crush further unrest.

China's response to last week's violence -- which it says was orchestrated by the exiled Dalai Lama -- has sparked international criticism and has clouded preparations for the Beijing Olympics which the hosts hope will be the country's "coming-out party" as a world power.

The prosecutor's office in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, said 24 people faced charges of "endangering national security as well as beating, smashing, looting, arson and other grave crimes" in last Friday's riots, the Tibet Daily reported.

They were the first arrests since rioting erupted across the remote region. Some outside groups say hundreds of Tibetans may have already been detained, and the China News Service reported Lhasa has broadcast wanted pictures of more suspects.

"The facts of the crimes are clear and the evidence is solid, and they should be severely punished," a Lhasa deputy chief prosecutor, Xie Yanjun, said.

He echoed the Chinese government's accusation that it was exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, and his "Dalai clique" who had engineered the violence.

Read more. Based on the reporting in this article, it seems that the Chinese government's state controlled media has been successful in turning the average Chinese citizen against the protesters in Tibet -- they blame the Dalai Lama for orchestrating the riots and uprising.

Once again, as flawed as our media sometimes is in this country, it could be a hell of a lot worse.

Finally, if you would like to add your name to a petition in support of the Tibetan people, follow this link.

Petition to Chinese President Hu Jintao:

As citizens around the world, we call on you to show restraint and respect for human rights in your response to the protests in Tibet, and to address the concerns of all Tibetans by opening meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Only dialogue and reform will bring lasting stability. China's brightest future, and its most positive relationship with the world, lies in harmonious development, dialogue and respect.

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