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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."

Peaceful march for Tibet in Chicago ends with broken window at consulate

March 20, 2008

By Jason Meisner, Tribune reporter
Chicago Tribune
March 18, 2008

Hundreds of demonstrators marched through a cold drizzle on Chicago's
Near North Side Tuesday afternoon to protest China's continued
occupation of Tibet.

The rally was largely peaceful, but at the end of the march, outside the
Chinese Consulate, a rock came hurtling from behind metal barriers
holding back the crowd and broke a second-floor window. The incident
prompted police to move in on horseback and monitor the crowd more closely.

One protester was arrested after he apparently used a ladder to climb
onto the roof of the consulate to display a Tibetan flag, police said.

Protesters also started a small fire in a metal trash can, but police
quickly removed it. Behind the tinted glass windows of the consulate,
curtains remained drawn as the demonstrators pointed and shouted.

"Their activities [pose] grave threat to the dignity as well as safety
of life and property of our consulate," Huixun Zhang, a spokesman for
the consulate, wrote in an e-mail.

He said the crowd, which he estimated at about 500 people, also burned
the Chinese flag. It was the fourth protest this month, he said.The
march began at Water Tower Place on North Michigan Avenue and wound its
way to the consulate at 100 W. Erie St. Chicago police blocked traffic
at intersections to allow the marchers to pass.

With many decked out in the blue, red and gold of the Tibetan
flag—which is outlawed in China—protesters shouted "Free Tibet,"
demanding that China relinquish the control it has held over Tibet since
Chinese troops entered in 1950.

Demonstrator Tenzin Palkyi, 21, a student at the University of Minnesota
on spring break, carried a sign with gruesome pictures of Tibetans she
said had been murdered by the Chinese government because of their
opposition to Chinese rule.

"It's one party, one rule," she said. "They won't let anyone see what's

Dawa Phuntsok of Wisconsin said he was marching to bring world attention
to the crisis.

"We are doing here what they can't do [in Tibet]," Phuntsok said.

The march came in reaction to protests led by monks in Lhasa, Tibet,
that began peacefully but turned violent. The protests began March 10 on
the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Tibet
had been effectively independent for decades before Chinese Communist
troops entered.

The increasingly violent demonstrations in Lhasa have left 16 people
dead and dozens injured, according to the government. The unrest spread
into neighboring provinces with large Tibetan populations. China has
denied a claim by the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile in India that 80
Tibetans have died.

As Tuesday's march in Chicago wound its way through the Near North Side,
at times stretching for more than three blocks, motorists honked car
horns in support and curious bystanders came out of restaurants to watch
the procession.

One protester, who did not want to be named, said many people knew
nothing about Tibet other than the Dalai Lama, which he said was not
what the march was about.

"This has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama," he said. "It's not about
just China or Tibet, it's about basic human rights."

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating
violent clashes to taint the Beijing Olympics, saying Tuesday that the
Nobel Peace Prize laureate was provoking violence to promote Tibetan

The Dalai Lama urged his followers to remain peaceful, saying he would
resign as head of Tibet's government-in-exile if the situation spun out
of control. But he also suggested the Chinese may have fomented the
protests in Tibet and neighboring provinces in order to discredit him.

The protests have focused world attention on China's human rights record
ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The Communist government wants to ensure
that the Aug. 8-24 Games boost its international image.

In China's highest-level response to the unrest, Wen on Tuesday
underscored the Communist leadership's determination to regain control
of Tibet and nearby part of China and reassure the world it is fit to
host the Games.

"There is ample fact—and we also have plenty of evidence—proving
that this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited
by the Dalai clique," Wen told reporters at his annual news conference
at the end of China's national legislative session.

The group Tibetans in the Midwest issued fliers at Tuesday's rally
calling on the U.S. and United Nations to pressure China to meet a list
of demands, including immediate withdrawal of all troops from Lhasa, the
lifting of "virtual martial law" throughout Tibet and the release of all
political prisoners.

The group also wants China to "allow international media to enter Tibet
without restrictions."

Police at the scene estimated the crowd outside the consulate at about
600, although more may have participated in the march. Hundreds were
still chanting outside the building two hours after the rally began.

Tribune reporter Dan P. Blake and Tribune news services contributed to
this report.
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