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Lhasa monks accuse Beijing of lying over unrest

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080327/ts_nm/china_tibet_dc Lhasa monks accuse Beijing of lying over unrest By John Ruwitch 1 hour, 3 minutes ago BEIJING
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 27, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080327/ts_nm/china_tibet_dc

      Lhasa monks accuse Beijing of lying over unrest

      By John Ruwitch 1 hour, 3 minutes ago

      BEIJING (Reuters) - Tibetan monks stormed a news
      briefing at a temple in Lhasa on Thursday, accusing
      Chinese authorities of lying about recent unrest and
      saying the Dalai Lama had nothing to do with the
      violence, foreign reporters said.

      The incident was an embarrassment to the Chinese
      government, which brought a select group of foreign
      reporters to Lhasa for a stage-managed tour of the
      city, where authorities say stability has been
      restored since violence broke out on March 14.

      The government has also been saying security forces
      acted with restraint in response to international
      concern over the unrest ahead of the Olympics in
      August.

      A group of uninvited young monks at the Jokhang
      Temple, one of the most sacred in Tibet and a top
      tourist stop in central Lhasa, stormed into a briefing
      by a temple administrator.

      "About 30 young monks burst into the official
      briefing, shouting: 'Don't believe them. They are
      tricking you. They are telling lies'," USA Today
      Beijing-based reporter Callum MacLeod said by
      telephone from Lhasa.

      Hong Kong's TVB aired television footage of the bold
      outburst in front of the first foreign journalists
      allowed into Tibet since the violence, showing the
      monks in crimson robes, some weeping, crowded around
      cameras.

      The monks said they had been unable to leave the
      temple since March 10, when demonstrations erupted in
      Lhasa on the 49th anniversary of an abortive uprising
      against Chinese rule that saw Tibet's spiritual
      leader, the Dalai Lama, flee to exile in India.

      "They just don't believe us. They think we will come
      out and cause havoc -- smash, destroy, rob, burn. We
      didn't do anything like that -- they're falsely
      accusing us," said one monk. "We want freedom. They
      have detained lamas and normal people."

      Wang Che-nan, a cameraman for Taiwan's ETTV, said the
      incident lasted about 15 minutes, after which unarmed
      police took the monks elsewhere in the temple, away
      from the journalists.

      "They said: 'Your time is up, time to go to the next
      place'," Wang said.

      Reuters was not invited on the government-organized
      trip.

      Chhime Chhoekyapa, secretary to the Dalai Lama, said
      the incident made clear "that brute force alone cannot
      suppress the long simmering resentment that exists in
      Tibet."

      "We are deeply concerned about the safety and
      well-being of the monks and appeal to the
      international community to ensure their protection,"
      he said.

      On Wednesday, President George W. Bush encouraged
      Chinese President Hu Jintao to hold talks with the
      Dalai Lama.

      Hu said China was willing to continue engaging in
      "contact and discussions" with the Dalai Lama, but he
      must renounce support for independence of the
      Himalayan region and Taiwan, and "stop inciting and
      planning violent and criminal activities and
      sabotaging the Beijing Olympics," newspapers said on
      Thursday.

      RIOTS, PROTESTS

      China has blamed the "Dalai clique" for the unrest and
      called him a separatist. The Dalai Lama denies he
      wants anything more than autonomy for his homeland and
      has criticized the violence.

      The protesting monks at the Jokhang Temple also said
      the Nobel Peace Prize winning lama was not behind the
      violence, Japan's Kyodo news agency, which has a
      journalist on the scene, reported.

      "The Dalai Lama is unrelated," it quoted them as
      shouting.

      In a recent interview, the Dalai Lama said the
      Olympics were a chance for the world to remind China
      of its rights record.

      "In order to be a good host to the Olympic Games,
      China must improve its record in the field of human
      rights and religious freedom," the Tibetan spiritual
      leader told India's NDTV news channel in an interview
      to be aired on Friday.

      Marches by monks in Lhasa turned within days into
      rioting in which non-Tibetan Chinese migrants were
      attacked and their property burned until security
      forces filled the streets.

      Protests have spread to parts of Chinese provinces
      that border Tibet and have large ethnic Tibetan
      populations.

      China says 19 people were killed at the hands of
      Tibetan mobs. The Tibetan government-in-exile says 140
      died in Lhasa and elsewhere, most of them Tibetan
      victims of security forces.

      China has poured troops into the region to keep order.

      Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Thursday again
      called for people involved in the Lhasa violence to
      turn themselves in.

      "We urge those lawbreakers involved in burning,
      smashing and looting who are still at large to hand
      themselves in," he said.

      Human Rights Watch said the United Nations human
      rights council should address the crisis in Tibet.

      The rights watchdog said Australia, the European
      Union, Switzerland and the United States raised human
      rights abuses in Tibet during a session of the U.N.
      Human Rights Council, but China blocked debate, backed
      by Algeria, Cuba, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

      (Additional reporting by Lindsay Beck in Beijing,
      Krittivas Mukherjee and Bappa Majumdar in New Delhi,
      and Kate Leung in Hong Kong; Editing by Ken Wills and
      David Fogarty)
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