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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Life Slowly Returns to Lhasa

May 12, 2008

Radio Free Asia
May 8, 2008

KATHMANDU  -- A trickle of tourists from other parts of China has
resumed into the Tibetan capital, although few shops have opened in
downtown Lhasa despite encouragement by local officials to do so.
Phone services to the city have improved, and Tibetan students are
being taken on "educational" trips by the authorities.

The Tibetan capital city, Lhasa, all but cut off from the outside
world after a military crackdown on anti-Chinese riots and
demonstrations in mid-March, is slowly beginning to show more signs
of life, sources in the city said.

A small number of foreign tourists was visible on the streets, along
with more visitors from elsewhere in China, both Han Chinese and
Muslims, according to one resident.

But she said the movements of Tibetans were still restricted in the
wake of the protests, which set Lhasa ablaze with anti-Chinese
sentiment and prompted an armed crackdown from thousands of Chinese
security forces who have held the city ever since.

"No Tibetans from the Kham and Amdo regions [including Tibetan areas
of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu] are allowed to purchase train tickets
to go to Lhasa," the woman said.

"Many of them do have resident permits, but they need a residence
permit for Lhasa to purchase a train ticket. They were told it was as
per the instructions of the central government in Beijing," she
added.  "However, Han Chinese and Muslim Chinese are allowed to
travel to Tibet."


She said further "re-education" seemed to be under way by Chinese
authorities, aimed at the Tibetan population.

"Tibetan students in Lhasa are made to visit the museum in Lhasa
regularly to educate them about the dark side of traditional Tibetan
society," the woman said.

The apparent relaxation comes after the first round of talks between
representatives of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai
Lama, and Chinese officials.

Communications services were improving, with more phone services up
and running than before, sources said.

"The telephone was not working for many days. We could not call
others and others could not call us. Since yesterday, the phone lines
have improved," the Lhasa woman said.

In Lhasa, the elderly are beginning to walk around the streets more
freely, but so far no shopkeepers or stallholders appear to have
taken up the government's offer to resume trade in central shopping
districts such as Bakhor and Jokhang, although some businesses were
re-opening near the Ramoche monastery.


Lhasa's main monasteries, including Drepung and Sera, re-opened last
week, and some monks were inside, but members of the public were not
yet visiting them, Lhasa residents said.

The Dalai Lama's envoy, Lodi Gyari, said Chinese negotiators had
shown a willingness to engage with the Tibetan side during recent
talks. But he said there were many areas where both sides had simply
"agreed to disagree."

China says the "Dalai Lama clique" was responsible for disturbances
in Tibet and protests over the Olympic torch, which reached the top
of Mount Everest on Thursday, carried the last few yards by a Tibetan
woman amid scenes of patriotic jubilation.

While Lhasa remains under tight military control, sporadic protests
continue to surface in western China among Tibetans calling for
religious freedom, Tibetan independence, and support for the Dalai Lama.

More thsn 300 nuns in Wadha monastery located near Simo village,
Dakgo county in Sichuan province, hung banners with slogans that read
"religious freedom, Tibetan independence," a spokesman for the
Tibetan government-in-exile in India said.

An employee who answered the phone at the Dakgo religious affairs
bureau said the monastery was currently under investigation by
Chinese state security police.


"It is not so convenient to talk about this... We are just
investigating those who organize activities to split the country and
those who instigate subversive activities," the official said.

Lodi Gyari said the Tibetan side had categorically rejected Chinese
accusations that the Dalai Lama was behind the demonstrations and
unrest in Tibet, which began in Lhasa and spread rapidly to other
Tibetan regions of western China.

The envoys told the Chinese officials that events in Tibet were "a
clear symptom of deeply felt grievances and resentment of the
Tibetans" towards Chinese government policies going back decades, and
appealed for an end to "the current repression."

They particularly took aim at the deeply resented current "patiotic
education" campaigns in which Chinese officials put pressure on
Tibetans to embrace the Communist Party line and renounce the Dalai
Lama as a "splittist."

Sources from the Tibetan government in exile also said Thursday that
prayer sessions were held in almost all big monasteries in Tibet.

The sessions focused on praying for world peace and the Beijing
Olympics. According to Chinese government sources, more than 400
monks from Drepung monastery and 350 monks from Sera monastery prayed
during the sessions, compared with historical highs of 10,000 monks
and 7,000 monks respectively.

Original reporting in Tibetan by Yandon Demo, in Mandarin by Qiao
Long and in Cantonese by Hoi Lam. RFA Tibetan service director: Jigme
Ngapo. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service
director: Shiny Li. Translated by Jia Yuan, Karma Dorjee and Shiny
Li. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah
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