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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Chinese Security Forces Maintain Calm in Lhasa

March 17, 2008

By Stephanie Ho

Beijing, 16 March 2008 (VOA News) - China says Lhasa is calm, two days
after peaceful street protests in the Tibetan capital turned violent.
Beijing is stepping up its efforts to blame the Dalai Lama for the
riots, while countries around the world are urging Chinese authorities
to respond with restraint. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

Video images from Lhasa on international television news channels Sunday
show Chinese police in riot gear, making door to door searches.

Following several days of peaceful Tibetan protests against Chinese rule
in Tibet, violence erupted in Lhasa last Friday. Buildings were burned
to the ground, cars were set on fire and at least 10 people were killed,
by official Chinese estimates.

Chinese authorities continued to level blame for the violence at what it
calls "the Dalai clique," headed by Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama, who lives in northern India.

Urgen Tenzin, with the Dharmsala-based non-governmental organization,
the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, says these
accusations are baseless.

"They are blaming his holiness, the Dalai Lama, for this demonstration,
which is totally wrong," said Tenzin. "This is not true."

Tenzin says China is ruining its chance of negotiating in good faith
with the Dalai Lama, who wants autonomy for Tibet within China. Beijing
accuses him of seeking independence.

Tenzin expressed doubts about the Chinese government's offer of leniency
to demonstrators who turn themselves in or to people who inform on
others, before Tuesday.

"And when they get all the information about the demonstrators,
definitely they will use action against them, and I think the Tibetan
people will suffer," added Tenzin.

A Chinese government spokesman refused to comment and referred questions
to official Chinese media reports.

Control of information is one important aspect of the story.
International television news reports of the Lhasa unrest have been
regularly cut off inside China, while blog postings that present views
that differ from the official view are quickly removed from the Internet.

Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of
California at Berkeley, says the Chinese government does not want the
world to see one of its weaknesses.

"This event, if it tells us anything, it tells us that the Chinese
government is not [as] in control as they think they are or as they
claim they are," said Xiao.

Meanwhile, leaders around the world have appealed for the Chinese
government not to resort to violence in dealing with the demonstrators.
And international human rights groups are calling for a United Nations
fact-finding mission to assess the situation in Tibet.

The unrest and ensuing crackdown come at a particularly bad time for
China, which is hoping to showcase unity when it hosts the Olympic games
in August. The violence comes about two weeks before China's Olympic
celebrations kick off, with the start of a torch relay that includes
Tibet on its itinerary.
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