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India fears a macabre turn to protests as China ‘foils terror plot’

April 12, 2008

Indian police say that they are ready for the possibility that Tibetans
will set themselves on fire in front of world’s media

Rhys Blakely and Jane Macartney
The Times (UK)
April 11, 2008

Thousands of anti-Chinese demonstrators took to the streets of Delhi
yesterday, foreshadowing the reception the Olympic torch is likely to
receive when it reaches India next week.

Demonstrators carried placards accusing China of cultural genocide in
Tibet, and 154 shrouded effigies, which they said represented
compatriots killed in a crackdown in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. Chinese
authorities claim that 22 people died in the riots that broke out a
month ago.

The Indian authorities are braced for further protests after disruptions
in London, Paris and San Francisco. Fears are mounting that the
demonstrations will take a gruesome turn in India, the base for Tibet’s
Government in exile. Police say that they are ready for the possibility
that Tibetans will set themselves on fire in front of the world’s media.
“The potential for acts of self-immolation cannot be dismissed,” one
senior officer told The Times.

In a sign of growing international unrest over China’s conduct in Tibet,
the European Parliament raised the prospect of a boycott by EU leaders
of the Olympics’ opening ceremony if China does not meet the Dalai Lama,
Tibet’s exiled leader. The US House of Representatives has passed a
resolution asking China to enter talks.

Speaking in Delhi, where the Olympic torch is due to arrive next
Thursday, Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan
government-in-exile, said that he was still hopeful of a peaceful
settlement with China, but only if Beijing softened its line. “If they
are wise enough, some path for reconciliation might be opened,” he said.

In a suggestion that China has admitted its inability to quash unrest,
the path the torch will take on May 2 in Hong Kong, its first stop in
the host nation, is thought likely to be curtailed “to avoid
embarrassing scenes”.

China said yesterday that it had uncovered a plot by terrorists to
kidnap athletes and visitors at the Beijing Olympics and carry out
suicide bombings. Security forces in the western Xinjiang region had
uncovered two criminal rings and arrested 45 people found to be in
possession of dynamite and “jihadist” literature, the Ministry of Public
Security said.

One “violent terrorist gang” of 35 people, led by Abdulrahman Tuersun,
had been arrested between March 26 and April 6, Wu Heping, the ministry
spokesman, said. “They wanted to make a global impact to sabotage the
Beijing Olympics. We face a real terrorist threat,” he said.

China has portrayed the insurgency as being linked to terrorist
organisations in Central Asia and the Middle East. Police confiscated
almost 10kg (22lbs) of explosive material, dynamite, detonators and
jihadist literature in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital. Police said that both
groups were acting on orders from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

Another ten people, arrested in a raid on a housing complex in Urumqi in
January, had been manufacturing explosives and were plotting
remote-control bombings, poisonings and poison gas attacks in Shanghai,
Beijing and other cities, the official said.

However, an AFP journalist visited the apartment blocks last week and
interviewed several residents who said that they had no knowledge of the
violent clash in which police said two of the gang were killed and 15

The Ministry called for public vigilance but did not explain why it had
decided to go public with a threat to the Olympics that could scare away
some foreign visitors.

Danger spots

April 13, Dar es Salaam May raise the issue of Chinese investment in Sudan
April 17, Delhi Self-immolation by exiled Tibetan monks would be a PR
April 24, Canberra Australia’s opposition sports spokesman has urged
protesters to line the route
May 2, Hong Kong Protesters could hijack one of the last stops before
the torch enters mainland China

Source: Times database
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