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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China fires tear gas on monks protesting in Tibet

March 13, 2008

BEIJING, March 12 (Reuters) - Thousands of Chinese security personnel
fired tear gas to try to disperse more than 600 monks taking part in a
second day of rare street protests in Tibet, a source and Radio Free
Asia said on Wednesday.

The Tibet demonstrations follow a string of marches around the world
to commemorate the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Chinese
rule in the remote, mountainous region that has become a flashpoint
for protesters ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

"The police were armed with electric prods. Other uniformed security
forces had firearms," the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

"The monks chanted: 'Release our people'," the source said, quoting a
witness. The group, from the Sera Monastery, also shouted "We want
human rights and freedom", the source said.

On Monday, 300 monks defied authorities by staging a march in the
Tibetan capital of Lhasa, which a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman
described as "an illegal activity that threatened social stability".

Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1950 and nine years later the Dalai
Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, fled into exile after
a failed revolt against Chinese rule.

Tibet has since become a point of contention between Chinese Communist
leaders and those who advocate independence or greater autonomy for
the region.

Radio Free Asia said the monks from the Sera Monastery were demanding
the release of fellow monks detained for protesting a day earlier.

About a dozen monks from Sera were detained earlier this month for
waving a Tibetan flag and shouting pro-independence slogans, the
source said, adding that government officials said they had been
rounded up for "very serious" crimes.


The pro-Tibet protests around the world in the last week and the
demonstrations within the heavily policed region itself are precisely
what China's Communist rulers are keen to avoid ahead of the Olympics
in August.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told unwelcome critics to back off on
Wednesday, accusing them of violating the Olympic Games charter
keeping politics away from sports.

"More and more countries ... have recognised that this issue concerns
China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is not a religious
or ethnic issue," Yang told a news conference.

On Wednesday, reports said China had closed the north face of Mount
Everest to expeditions until after the Olympic torch ascends its peak
in early May.

The Expedition Web portal carried a notice on its
site from the Mountaineering Association of Tibet Autonomous Region of
the People's Republic of China asking climbers to postpone their
ascents until after May 10.

"Concern over heavy climbing activities, crowded climbing routes and
increasing environmental pressures will cause potential safety
problems in Qomalangma areas," said the notice, dated March 10. "We
are not able to accept your expedition, so please postpone your
climbing project until after May 10."

Everest, where five Americans unfurled "Free Tibet" banners last year,
is known in China by its Tibetan name, Qomalangma.

India, whose hill station town of Dharamsala is home to Tibet's
government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, also saw a spurt of activity
over the issue of who rules the Buddhist region.

In New Delhi, about 40 Tibetan nuns tried to storm the Chinese
embassy, but were turned back and detained by Indian police, who
briefly used water cannon on the protesters.

Around 500 Tibetan women also marched peacefully through the streets
of Dharamsala, activists said.

And around 100 marchers, including monks, nuns and young people born
in exile, set off on the third day of their march from Dharamsala to
Tibet, closely watched by Indian police and officials who hope to keep
them within the district of Kangra.
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