By David R. Sands
The Washington Times
March 15, 2008
The United States led an international chorus yesterday urging China to show restraint after two protesters were reportedly killed in Tibet in the largest anti-government demonstrations in nearly two decades.
The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the remote region’s Buddhist natives, dismissed as “baseless” charges by Beijing that he was behind the violence that has erupted after three days of demonstrations marking the 49th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.
The White House, the European Union and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour all pushed China to ease the crackdown in Tibet, amid reports of Chinese police firing on crowds of protesters who were burning cars and shops in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Beijing needs to respect Tibetan culture and multi-ethnicity in its society, according to the Associated Press. “We regret the tensions between the ethnic groups and Beijing,” he said, adding that President Bush has said consistently that Beijing needs to have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
“Nobody benefits from violence,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “But we believe that it is very important that in responding to these protests that the Chinese government turn away from the use of force or violence in responding to the protests.”
Mr. McCormack said U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt, in a previously scheduled meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, pressed Beijing to act with restraint and to conduct talks with the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since 1959.
Details from Lhasa were sketchy, with some reports putting the number of those killed as high as 13. The U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia quoted witnesses yesterday who reported seeing two bodies on the streets of the capital, after police reportedly fired live ammunition into crowds of protesters.
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Demonstrators protest the treatment of Tibet by the Chinese government in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York March 14, 2008. Police arrested six pro-Tibet protesters outside U.N. headquarters on Friday after an impromptu demonstration in support of the independence protests in Tibet grew unruly. About 40 or 50 protesters engaged in a standoff with New York police who threatened to arrest them all if they did not move from a traffic island in front of the U.N. building in Manhattan.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES)