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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?"

Foreign tourists in China not allowed into Tibet: tour guides

March 17, 2008

CHENGDU, China March 16, 2008 (AFP) — Foreign tourists are not being
allowed to enter Tibet following the deadly unrest in the region's
capital Lhasa, tour operators and travellers told AFP on Saturday.

"Foreign tourists cannot come into Lhasa. The permits have been
suspended. Some people who arrived yesterday were turned back," private
tour organiser Wu Yongzhe said by telephone from Lhasa.

Two tour organisers based in this southwestern Chinese city, which is a
hub for travellers to Tibet, also confirmed the region had been closed
to foreigners.

The owner of a popular guesthouse in Chengdu, which organises group
permits for foreign backpackers, said the government stopped issuing
permits for Tibet on Friday.

"I cannot arrange for foreign tourists to go to Tibet," she said.

"I had one group who had their permits and flew out yesterday and they
were forced to stay at a hotel near an airport (on the outskirts of
Lhasa). They were not allowed to go into Lhasa."

She said the group was due to return to Chengdu on Saturday.

At a Chengdu hotel, a group of about a dozen tourists were making new
travel plans on Saturday after their trip to Lhasa was abruptly cancelled.

The group, travelling with California tour company Third Eye, had
originally planned to fly to Lhasa early on Saturday, said the American
tour leader.

"We were told that the permits had been suspended," she said.

The suspension came after a week of peaceful protests in Lhasa erupted
on Friday into widespread rioting, prompting a massive show of force by
Chinese security forces.

Ten people were killed in the unrest, according to China's official
Xinhua news agency, which was the biggest and most deadly protest
against Chinese rule of Tibet since 1989.

Jose Miguel Allende, from Chile, said from Chengdu airport on Saturday
that he and two friends flew into Lhasa airport on Friday but
authorities would not let them go into the city.

They instead forced his group and other travellers to stay in a hotel on
the outskirts of Lhasa, and then to fly back to Chengdu on Saturday morning.

"They were not allowing anyone in (to Lhasa)," Allende said, adding that
even on the outskirts of town there were signs of tension.

"There was a lot of government cars on the road, large land cruisers
with police escorts and sirens," he said.

China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 to "liberate" the remote Himalayan
region and formally annexed it a year later. In March 1959, an attempted
uprising was quelled by the Chinese and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's
spiritual leader, fled into exile.

The Tibetan population largely remains resentful of what it says is
repressive Chinese rule.

Due to political sensitivity in the region, foreigners require permits
to travel into Tibet, though not for travel elsewhere in China.
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