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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."

Chinese Troops Surround Tibet Monasteries, Groups Say

March 14, 2008

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese troops surrounded three of the largest
monasteries in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, after Buddhist monks led
the biggest demonstrations in the Himalayan region in almost 20 years,
rights groups said.

The Drepung, Ganden and Sera monasteries are closed to tourists and
some monks have gone on hunger strike to protest the lockdown, the
International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement on its Web site.

``We are witnessing the most visible wave of peaceful dissent against
Chinese rule in the Tibetan capital for the past two decades,'' Sophie
Richardson of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said today.

The protests began March 10 when hundreds of monks marched in Lhasa
calling for an end to religious restrictions and the release of
imprisoned colleagues. The date marked the anniversary of a failed
Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, after which the Dalai
Lama fled to India.

China's Foreign Ministry yesterday accused the monks of trying to
cause social unrest and said the situation in Lhasa was stable. ``We
are resolutely opposed to any plots attempting to separate Tibet from
China,'' the state-run Xinhua News Agency cited spokesman Qin Gang as

Tibet had varying degrees of autonomy from China until the Chinese
Communist Party came to power in 1949. It deployed troops there a year
later and annexed the region in 1951.

Spiritual Leader

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, on March 10 accused China of
violating human rights in the region.

``Repression continues to increase with numerous, unimaginable and
gross violations of human rights, denial of religious freedom and
politicization of religious issues,'' he told supporters in the
northern Indian town of Dharamshala, where he heads a government in

About 2,000 soldiers blocked 500 monks from marching from their
monastery toward the city center on March 11, Human Rights Watch said
in a statement. Police used teargas and electric prods to disperse
demonstrators, Amnesty International said.

The protests are the largest in Tibet since pro- independence
demonstrations in 1989, which prompted Chinese authorities to declare
martial law.

Tibetan activists have also staged protests in Nepal and India this week.
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