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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibet monasteries on lockdown after protests

March 14, 2008

BEIJING, March 14 (Reuters) - Chinese authorities sealed off three
monasteries in Tibet, reports said on Friday, after a wave of rare
street protests in the remote, Buddhist region whose rule has become a
focus for critics ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

The demonstrations, which also spilled into Chinese provinces
populated by Tibetans, began earlier this week after marches around
the world to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against
Communist rule.

"All three monasteries are closed off to tourists," the
Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement,
citing tourism operators. "There is an intensified atmosphere of fear
and tension in Tibet's capital."

On Monday, 500 monks from the Drepung monastery staged a march in
Lhasa, which was later followed by action from monks at the Lhasa-area
Sera and Ganden monasteries. Security personnel fired tear gas on at
least one of the demonstrations, reports said.

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India
after the uprising in 1959, nine years after Chinese troops invaded.

This week's shows of defiance are likely to worry China's leadership
as it seeks to secure a stable environment for the Games, which open
on Aug. 8.

The U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that monks
from Sera were on a hunger strike, demanding the withdrawal of Chinese
paramilitary force from the monastery compound and the release of
monks detained earlier this week.

Two monks from Drepung were in critical condition after attempting
suicide by slitting their wrists, RFA said.

The number of Tibetans detained could not be confirmed, but the
watchdog groups said they expected government reprisals.

"There are indications that the authorities have begun a process of
investigation in monasteries that could lead to detention and
torture," the International Campaign for Tibet said.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch called on China, as well as
Nepal and India, which have seen similar demonstrations, to release
detained Tibetans.

"Peaceful demonstrations are protected under international and
domestic laws and they should be permitted, not violently dispersed,"
Sophie Richardson, the group's Asia advocacy director, said in a
statement.
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