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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Railway Hasn't Helped Tibetans

February 29, 2008

BEIJING, 28 Feb (AP) — China's railway to Tibet is allowing the
government to exploit the region's natural resources while threatening
its Buddhist culture and traditional way of life, an activist group
said Thursday.

The Washington, D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet did not
prominently mention the upcoming Beijing Olympics, but its report was
released amid increasing criticism of China over a variety of issues,
including its policies on ethnic minorities.

The railway, nearly 2 years old, has accelerated the migration to
Tibet of Han Chinese, the country's majority ethnic group, the report
said. Although the train was touted as part of a plan to bring
economic growth to the far-western region, the traditionally nomadic
Tibetans have been relegated to unskilled work while Han business
owners reap the benefits of development, it said.

The railway allows efficient transport of raw materials — iron,
copper, zinc and others — out of Tibet to manufacturing centers, where
they are used to make the world's televisions, DVD players and other
electronics, ICT said.

"The large-scale extraction of these resources is a key element of the
authorities' motivation for building the railroad, together with
strengthening the state's authority and control over Tibetan areas,"
the report said.

Beijing has focused in recent years on spurring economic development
to tie Tibet more closely to China.

China claims Tibet has been its territory for centuries and its forces
occupied the region in 1951. But the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader, is still widely revered and the Chinese government
seeks to demonize the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as an outcast seeking
to "split the motherland."

The culture of Tibet, where Buddhism pervades every aspect of everyday
life, is distinctly different from the rest of China. But the railway
has brought increasing numbers of Han settlers who do not speak the
Tibetan language and noisy tourists who flock to sacred religious

China has defended its work in Tibet, saying improvements in areas
such as infrastructure and health care, along with campaigns to settle
nomadic herders in permanent communities, were improving the quality
of life.

"The railway has played a positive role in developing the economy and
people's livelihoods in Tibet. No negative impact has been imposed,"
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics has made it a target of activist
groups, which want to shame the host country into changing its
policies on human rights, international relations and treatment of
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