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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?"

Nancy Pelosi challenges world over Tibet

March 22, 2008

By Richard Spencer in Beijing

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives met the Dalai Lama at his
seat in exile today and demanded that the world stand up for Tibet
against Chinese oppression.

On a visit that will infuriate China, Nancy Pelosi, the third-ranking
figure in American politics and one of its fiercest critics of China,
was greeted as a heroine on a visit to Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama's seat
in exile.
Nancy elosi and the Dalai Lama

It had already been arranged before wave of unrest struck Tibetan areas
of China.

"The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world,"
she said after the meeting.

"If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against
Chinese oppression and China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority
to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world."

Ms Pelosi was speaking as an intensive build-up of troops seemed finally
to have locked down major protests throughout Tibet and neighbouring

China itself began to hit back at the bad publicity it has received in
the west over its suppression of unrest, issuing a list of 19 "most
wanted" local Tibetans it said was responsible for violence in Lhasa
last Friday which killed 13 ethnic Chinese.

The photographs, taken from security camera footage, were posted on
principal internet sites such as Sina and Yahoo.

Later, state media said two of those pictured had already been taken
into custody.

The government is furious that the outside world has sided with the
Tibetan protesters despite the violence on display last Friday.

It showed footage on state television - which also appeared on the BBC -
of monks at Drepung monastery, where the protests began on March 10,
appearing to throw objects at a line of police in what had previously
been said to be a peaceful protest.

But Ms Pelosi laid the blame for events squarely on China's shoulders.

She called for an international investigation into the protests to
"clear the Dalai Lama's name".

"Nothing surprises me about the use of violence on the part of the
Chinese government," she said.

Ms Pelosi, a Democrat, has a long record of criticism of China over
human rights and trade, and in 1991 unfurled a pro-democracy banner in
Tiananmen Square to lend her moral support to the students who protested
there two years before.

"Perhaps it's our karma, our fate, to be with you at such a sad time,"
she said, to a crowd of 2,000 people who had greet her with signs saying
"Long Live America-Tibet Friendship".

"It is our karma, we know, to help the people of Tibet."

But she was also supported by the senior Republican on the trip, James
Sensenbrenner. "In the U.S. Congress, there is no division between
Democrats and Republicans on the issue of protecting Tibetan culture and
eliminating repression against Tibetans around the world," he said.

While Mrs Pelosi's support for Tibet comes as no surprise, it will add
to pressure on China which has admitted firing on Tibetan protesters for
the first time, as it sent in tens of thousands more troops to restore

State media said that four Tibetan "rioters" had been wounded when
police opened fire on Sunday in the town of Aba, Sichuan province,
neighbouring Tibet.

It did not give details, but Tibet support groups said that at least 12
people died in a protest which began at Kirti monastery in Aba. Monks in
Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, have
released photographs of what they claim are some of the dead.

Until now, the Chinese government has refused to confirm reports of
shootings by security forces in response to the unrest in Tibet and
surrounding regions.

The only casualties the government has mentioned are the Chinese victims
of the Tibetan mob that swept through Lhasa last Friday, after a wave of
largely peaceful protests by monks.
China admits firing at Tibetan protesters

It said between 13 and 16 were killed.

The admission came as reports from the region described a huge build-up
of tens of thousands of troops, and a house-to-house search for those
involved in riots and demonstrations.

The Daily Telegraph saw several convoys of trucks in Gansu province, to
the north-east of Tibet, this week, while Georg Blume of Die Zeit
newspaper, who has also been in Lhasa, reported seeing a column of 200
trucks each containing about 30 troops.

A total of 400 trucks in western Sichuan province were seen heading
towards Tibet.

A specialist online magazine said elite troops from the Chinese People’s
Liberation Army were among those operating under cover on the streets of
Lhasa, even though martial law has not been declared.

Kanwa Defence Review, which focuses on the military in Asia, based its
claims on the troop carriers that appeared in Lhasa after the rioting
began last Friday.

It said they were clearly T90 and T92 varieties, which are not in
service in the People’s Armed Police.

The PAP is the national paramilitary force which is supposed to quell
civilian unrest in China but whose poor record was confirmed by its
failure to protect ethnic Chinese from the Tibetan mobs last week.

The T90 is used by army heavy groups, it said, and the T92 by a few
special rapid-reaction force units.

  The magazine said the number plates, which would reveal whether the
vehicles belonged to the PLA or the PAP, had been obscured, along with
the red star on the sides.

The significance of the claim is that the government, sensitive to
reminders of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and the declaration
of martial law in Tibet that preceded it, insists that only police and
paramilitary police were used to quell the violence.

The Kanwa report squares with claims by The Economist that
"military-looking vehicles" in Lhasa had number plates removed or
obscured, and that some troops refused to say which branch of the
security forces they belonged to.

"The city was under martial law in all but name," it said.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama said he was willing to meet President Hu
Jintao of China a day after Gordon Brown said he had been told by his
Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, that he too was willing to hold

But for this to happen, a major shift by Beijing would be needed. It has
previously held out the possibility of negotiations, but has always
accused the Dalai Lama of not being sincere.

Since the protests and violence of the last 11 days, it has ratcheted up
its condemnation of him, calling him a "wolf in monk’s habit".
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