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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?"

Monks Staged Bold Protest in Tibet

March 13, 2008

BEIJING, March 12 (AP) — Buddhist monks staged two protests in the
capital of Tibet this week in a bold, public challenge to China's
rule, though a senior official said Tuesday that no one was arrested.

Champa Phuntsok, an ethnic Tibetan who heads the Tibetan regional
government, said authorities briefly detained monks from Drepung
monastery outside Lhasa who tried to march to the city on the
anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule in 1959.

He said they were released shortly afterward after being questioned
and "counseled."

"It's really nothing," he told The Associated Press in Beijing, where
he was attending the annual legislative session. "Everything is really

The protest, which overseas rights groups said involved about 300
monks, is believed to be the largest demonstration in the city since
Beijing crushed a wave of pro-independence activity in 1989.

Phuntsok also confirmed a smaller protest at which nine monks shouted
slogans near a temple in central Lhasa. The U.S. government-funded
Radio Free Asia and an overseas Tibetan Web site,, had
earlier reported both demonstrations.

Asked about the march, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, "Some
ignorant monks in Lhasa abetted by a small handful of people did some
illegal things that can challenge the social stability."

He said monks were dealt with "according to the law," but gave no details.

Drepung was sealed off Tuesday and increased numbers of armed police
guarded temples in and around Lhasa, according to Radio Free Asia and Web site, which is run by Tibetan exiles.

Up to 71 people, mostly monks, were detained following the protests, they said.

Always edgy about protests in frequently restive Tibet, China is
particularly nervous in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in August.
Tibetan exiles and their supporters have tried to draw the Olympic
spotlight to China's often harsh 57-year rule over the Himalayan

China is also worried about threats from another troubled borderland,
the far western Xinjiang region, where Muslim ethnic groups have waged
a simmering campaign for independence.

Officials on Sunday said a January police raid in Xinjiang's regional
capital of Urumqi uncovered a terrorist plot targeting the Olympics,
but they provided no details or supporting evidence. Authorities were
also investigating a reported attempt to crash a flight that departed
Urumqi on Friday, but have released little information and have not
characterized the incident as an attempted terrorist act.

Meanwhile, several hundred Tibetan exiles defied police orders to
resume an attempt to march to Tibet from Dharmsala, India, where their
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has presided over a
government-in-exile since the abortive 1959 uprising.

The march aims to protest the Beijing Olympics, although Indian police
have banned it, saying it violates an agreement between New Delhi and
the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The march has not been publicly endorsed by the exile government or
the Dalai Lama, who at a separate event in India, accused China of
"unimaginable and gross violations of human rights" in the Himalayan

Since the 1989 demonstrations, China has pumped investment into the
region, vilified the Dalai Lama and tried to weed out his supporters
among the influential Buddhist clergy — moves that have alienated some
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