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An armed escort for the Olympic torch, symbol of peace and fraternity

March 31, 2008

In Nepal, the army will watch over pro-Tibet protests. Hundreds of
demonstrators are already in jail in the country. The Dalai Lama asks
for a "constructive dialogue", and denounces the genocide taking place.
Meanwhile, the European Union has not decided to take any action against
the repression, and Western diplomats are letting themselves be "led
around" in Lhasa, under careful supervision., Italy
29 March, 2008

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Nepalese army will monitor the journey of the
Olympic torch to Everest, "so that no anti-China protest takes place".
Meanwhile, Western governments confirm their intention to take no
initiatives over the Tibetan question, and are allowing themselves to be
"led around" by Beijing.

No one will be allowed to be present during the passage of the torch
(between June 19 and 20), which will ascend to the 8,850-metre peak at
the border between Nepal and China.  Meanwhile, yesterday about 60
demonstrators were arrested, while a group of students of 15-18 years
old evaded the police and reached the United Nations building in
Kathmandu, shouting: "Free Tibet". Nepal is taking very strong action
against the thousands of Tibetan exiles who live in the country:
hundreds of peaceful demonstrators are in jail, and the police have
seized monks and violently beaten them.  The UN high commissioner for
human rights has denounced the arrest of people simply walking on the
streets, solely because they are clearly of Tibetan ethnicity.

This "firmness" is contrasted by the indecisiveness of the European
Union, whose foreign ministers, meeting in Slovenia until today to
discuss Tibet, have agreed only on a generic condemnation of the
repression, and of the death of 19 people (Beijing's version: the
Tibetan government-in-exile speaks of more than 140 verified deaths).
Many countries, like Great Britain, have declared that they will be in
Beijing for the inauguration of the Games.  Others, like Germany, have
said that they will not be there, while taking care to specify that this
is for reasons unrelated to the Tibetan question.  French president
Nicholas Sarkozy, who was the first to speak about avoiding the
ceremony, has said that none of the 27 countries has proposed a similar
unified protest, and that he "[reserves] the right" to decide what to do.

Yesterday, the Dalai Lama again appealed to Beijing to open a
"constructive dialogue" for a "peaceful solution" of the crisis,
insisting that he does not want to boycott the Olympics nor to ask for
independence for Tibet, but only for "a full guarantee from the Chinese
government on our unique cultural heritage, including our language and
environment".  He denounced "a plan to settle one million Chinese people
in Tibet". In reality, he concluded, "a cultural genocide is taking place".

But meanwhile, the West prefers to let itself be "led around" by China:
Today diplomats to China from 17 countries, including the United States,
Australia, and Great Britain, took a day trip to Lhasa, to verify that
the situation is peaceful.  They made the trip under careful
supervision, for reasons of "safety".  The area is still off-limits to
tourists and journalists.

Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the U.S. state department, applauded the
initiative as "a step in the right direction". (PB)
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