Lhasa monks accuse Beijing of lying over unrest
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
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
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
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
"We are deeply concerned about the safety and
well-being of the monks and appeal to the
international community to ensure their protection,"
On Wednesday, President George W. Bush encouraged
Chinese President Hu Jintao to hold talks with the
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
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
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
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