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Tibet monastery surrounded by military amid security crackdown after Dalai Lama award

October 25, 2007

BEIJING, October 24: A major Tibetan monastery has been sealed off by
armed troops following an increase in security after celebrations last
week over a U.S. award for the region's exiled spiritual leader, the
Dalai Lama, an activist group said Wednesday.

The Drepung monastery in Lhasa is still surrounded by armed troops,
according to the International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington-based
pro-Tibet human rights group, citing local sources and several
reports. Hundreds of monks may still be inside the monastery while
others may have been detained or injured, it said.

Another major monastery in the capital is also closed, the group said.

The awarding of the U.S. Congress' highest civilian honor — bestowed
by President George W. Bush on Wednesday — to the Dalai Lama was a
setback to Beijing's efforts to undermine support for the spiritual
leader, who they regard as a threat to the unity of China and their
continued rule over the region.

He remains popular among Tibetans since fleeing into exile 48 years
ago after a failed uprising, and has increased his international
standing recently by meeting with world leaders.

The International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement that security
on roads in and out of Lhasa had been stepped up and residents had
been ordered not to carry out religious activities or further
celebrations.

Several Tibetans were also temporarily detained after celebrations in
a monastery in Gansu province, the group said. Citing eyewitness
reports, it said there may have been injuries during clashes with
police.

A Tibetan source quoted by the group said the increased security road
checkpoints and restrictions on travel was similar to March 1989 when
martial law was imposed following protests against the Chinese
government.

"The tension in Lhasa and other areas of Tibet coinciding with the
Gold Medal ceremony and the Party Congress in Beijing, takes place in
the context of an intensified political campaign in Tibetan areas
against the Dalai Lama," the International Campaign for Tibet said in
a statement.

A monk who answered the telephone at the Drepung monastery said he was
not clear about the situation. The other monastery in Lhasa could not
be reached. The monastery in Gansu said no protest had taken place
last week.

A male official at the Lhasa police office did not confirm or deny the
news, but said there may be a news conference on the issue. Other
government and Communist Party departments could not be reached for
comment.

Security around China was increased before and during the week-long
17th Chinese Communist Party Congress which ended on Monday in
Beijing, but the International Campaign for Tibet said security was
tighter than normal in Tibet.

The congress makes a point of stressing the unity of China, especially
for regions such as Tibet.

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