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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."

In China, An Appeal For Change On Tibet 30 Intellectuals Urge Government to Rethink Its Response to Protests

March 24, 2008

By Jill Drew
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 23, 2008; Page A12

BEIJING, March 22 -- A group of 30 Chinese intellectuals appealed to the
Chinese government Saturday to admit that its policy of crushing dissent
in Tibet and blaming the ensuing violence on the Tibetan spiritual
leader, the Dalai Lama, was failing.

"The one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the
effect of stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating an already
tense situation," the group said in an open letter posted on,
a Web site for overseas Chinese. It was the first time a Chinese group
had publicly urged the country's leaders to rethink their response to
two weeks of protests in Tibetan areas across western China.

The government's response to the Tibetan protests is a highly sensitive
topic in China, and few people are willing to be quoted questioning its
actions. Many of the 30 people who signed the open letter are regular
contributors to Web sites and blogs that provide alternative views of
government policies. One other regular contributor, Hu Jia, went on
trial this week on charges of incitement to subvert state power for
posts he made on and comments in interviews with foreign
media. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Dissident author Wang Lixiong is the first name on the petition. He and
his wife, Tibetan poet and essayist Tsering Woeser, have been under
house arrest in Beijing since the protests began, Wang told Radio Free
Asia on Friday.

The Chinese government-controlled media, after initial silence on the
protests, has provided extensive coverage focusing on a March 14 riot in
Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

A 15-minute documentary that aired Thursday on state-run television
includes footage of marauding gangs of Tibetan rioters beating Chinese
and torching motorcycles; men in monks' robes hurling rocks at police in
riot gear, who turn and run; and interviews with injured survivors
describing the attacks from their hospital beds. There are no images of
the protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in Tibet that
began March 10 and were broken up by police.

The official broadcasts and newspaper reports say the government has
evidence that a Dalai Lama "clique" is behind the violence. "Just look
how well prepared the rioters were: backpacks of rocks, inflammable
liquid or self-made petrol bombs. They all shouted 'Tibet independence'
and many of them waved the flag of the 'Tibetan government in exile,' "
according to an official New China News Agency commentary published

The official media accuse foreign journalists of biased and inaccurate
reporting, and the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to
prevent foreign journalists from reporting at protest scenes. The
government has also blocked access in China to the Web site YouTube,
where several videos of the violence are posted.

The Web petition offers 12 suggestions for ways to handle the situation,
which include giving independent media access to conflict areas. "Only
by adopting an open attitude can we turn around the international
community's distrust of our government," it said.

The petition asks the government to protect freedom of speech and
worship, "thereby allowing the Tibetan people fully to express their
grievances and hopes, and permitting citizens of all nationalities
freely to criticize and make suggestions regarding the government's
nationality policies."

It also urges the government to open a new dialogue with the Dalai Lama
or otherwise reveal any evidence it has to back up charges that the
violence was a plot by him to split Tibet from China.
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