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'Grave concern' as Tibetan death toll rises

January 28, 2012

 
 
THE US has expressed "grave concern" over violence in Tibet that has seen Chinese security forces shoot up to a dozen people in the past week.
There were reports of up to five people killed in the latest shootings in Seda in Sichuan province.
And there were reports of six people being killed in a confrontation in Luhuo on Monday. At least one person died in a clash 10 days ago and dozens were injured in a number of protests.
China's leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, will visit Washington from February 14 in what is effectively a presentation of his credentials before taking charge from Hu Jintao in October.
Tibet has been a particularly sensitive issue in talks between the US and China.
"The Chinese government is calling the Tibetan protesters a violent mob in order to justify their violent actions," a spokeswoman for the Australia Tibet Council told The Australian.
"This is the tactic China used during the widespread uprising in Tibet in 2008 and they are doing it in 2012. The Tibetans are protesting for three reasons: to demand freedom and basic human rights, to call for the return of the Dalai Lama and to call for the end of Chinese rule in Tibet. This message is made loud and clear in every Tibetan protest."
The state-run Xinhua News Agency said police in Seda were forced to open fire and confirmed the death of one "rioter" after protesters attacked a police station with gasoline bottles, knives and stones, resulting in the arrest of 13 people and injuries to 14 police officers.
"Police were forced to use force after efforts involving persuasion and non-lethal weapon defence failed to disperse the mob," Xinhua said.
US Special Co-ordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero said in a statement the grievances in Tibet included ongoing "patriotic education" campaigns within monasteries that required monks to denounce the Dalai Lama; the permanent placement of Chinese officials in monasteries; and the intensive surveillance, arbitrary detention and disappearances of Tibetans.
"Over the last year Chinese government security and judicial officials also have detained and imprisoned Tibetan writers, artists, intellectuals, and cultural advocates who criticised Chinese government policies," Ms Otero said. "The US government has repeatedly urged the Chinese government to address the counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and threaten the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people."
The Chinese government has shown little sign of offering Tibetans any autonomy, refusing to negotiate with Lobsang Sangay, the recently elected prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and has threatened to appoint the next Dalai Lama.
No independent foreign organisations or media have been allowed into the area to verify events. Since March 16, ethnic Tibetans - many of them monks and nuns - have set themselves alight in protest at religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities.
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