Archive for the ‘Radio Free Asia’ Category

Tibet and the Ghosts of Tiananmen

March 18, 2008

By Bill Powell
TIME Magazine

It is still nearly five months before the Olympic torch is to be lit in Beijing, officially starting the 29th summer Olympics. But, diplomats in the Chinese capital believe that a high level game of chicken has already begun, one that has now turned deadly – first, in Lhasa, the capital of what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region, and now elsewhere, according to Tibetan exiles and human rights groups.

A demonstrator rallies against China's deadly crackdown ...
A demonstrator rallies against China’s deadly crackdown on pro-independence protesters in Tibet. The United States said Monday it would increase radio broadcasts to Tibet as China clamped down on media coverage of the bloody protests in the Himalayan territory.(AFP/Filippo Monteforte)

Yesterday, in China’s Sichuan province, at least eight bodies were brought to a Buddhist monastery in Aba prefecture, allegedly shot dead by Chinese riot control police, according to an eyewitness account quoted by Radio Free Asia. The escalating confrontation in and around Tibet is a nightmare for China’s top leadership, but one, some diplomats believe, that could not have taken anyone in the central government completely by surprise. It pits the leadership in Beijing against its domestic opponents – who include not only Tibetan dissidents, but also separatist groups in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang, as well as human rights and political activists throughout the country.

Each side understood that the months leading up to the Games would be “extremely sensitive,” as one diplomat put it. The government knew “from day one,” another diplomat told TIME, that “a successful bid for the games would bring an unprecedented – and in some cases very harsh – spotlight” on China and how it is governed. On the other side, everyone from human rights activists to independence seeking dissidents in Tibet and Xinjiang – “splittists” in the Chinese vernacular – knew they would have an opportunity to push their agendas while the world was watching. “Thought the specific trigger for this in Tibet is still unclear, that it intensified so quickly is probably not just an accident,” the senior diplomat says.

According to this view, it was never hard to imagine a scenario in which some group – and maybe several – would push things, try “to probe and see whether they could test limits.” The critical issue, now front and center, diplomats say, is just how far angry Tibetan activists will push – and how harshly the Chinese government will push back.

How extensive…

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China warned over Tibet turmoil

March 15, 2008

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.

El mapa sit

A map showing Lhasa in Tibet where troops have surrounded the ...

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.

Tibetan Buddhist monks shout slogans after being blocked by ...
Tibetan Buddhist monks shout slogans after being blocked by riot police at a protest near the historic Labrang Monastery, in the town of Xiahe, Gansu Province, on March 14. China said Saturday that 10 people had been burnt to death during violent unrest in Tibet, which has added to the pressure on Beijing just months before it hosts the Olympic Games.(AFP/Mark Ralston)

“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 ... 
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)