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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?"

Red faces in Beijing after Tibetan PR disaster

March 28, 2008

Radio Australia, Australia
March 28, 2008 12:06:42

Dozens of monks in Tibet have defied China's crackdown, to protest in
front of visiting foreign correspondents in the capital, Lhasa.
The Tibetan monks disrupted a tour by journalists who were the first to
be allowed back in Lhasa, after other colleagues were expelled following
a Chinese media blackout in the Himalayan region.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speakers: Stephen McDonell, China correspondent; protesting Tibetan monks

MCDONELL: The Chinese Government thought it was safe to allow a small
group of journalists back into Lhasa on a highly-controlled trip.

A heavy military build up in the Tibetan capital has allowed Chinese
authorities to well and truly take back the streets.

But a visit to Tibet's holiest temple turned out to be what they call in
the PR industry a "meltdown".

In the middle of a press briefing inside Jokhang Temple, 30 monks burst
in crying out for religious freedom.

MONKS: "We don't have freedom, we just want freedom."

MCDONELL:They told reporters that the Dalai Lama is not to blame for
anti Chinese riots, and that Chinese soldiers were surrounding the
Temple until reporters arrived.

Chinese Government handlers called out for journalists to leave and
tried to pull them away from the monks who kept talking.

MONKS: "They are all officials. The government arranged for them to come
in and we aren't allowed to go out because they say we could destroy
things, but we never did anything."

MCDONELL: Some of the monks were crying as they told reporters they
didn't care if they were arrested.

MCDONELL: One of them said that people had been wheeled into the Jokhang
Temple for the reporters to see, but that they were not genuine believers.

He said the whole event was a stage-managed lie organised by Communist
Party officials.

MONKS: "They actually cheat on people. The people who've come to pay
respects are cadres, they're all cadres, no others. All are lying. They
treat us very pathetically."

MCDONELL: According to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai
Lama, a small, heavily-managed media tour… represents not nearly enough
openness on the part of the Chinese Government.

DALAI LAMA: "I think one word I want to express - I think this is time
the Chinese government or concerned officials I think must accept the
reality. I think that's important. Now in any case we are (in the) 21st
century, pretending or lies cannot work."

MCDONELL: Today the Australian embassy in Beijing will send a
representative to join a diplomatic tour of Lhasa.
As well as making sure the four Australians in Tibet are all right, the
Government says they will also examine "the general welfare of Tibetans".
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