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Tibet religious official sacked--state media

March 31, 2008

Agence France-Presse
03/30/2008

BEIJING -- Tibet's top official for minority and religious affairs has
been sacked, Chinese state media said Sunday, becoming the first
apparent political casualty of the unrest in the Himalayan region.

Danzeng Langjie, director of Tibet's Ethnic Minority and Religious
Affairs Commission, has been "removed" from his post, according to a
statement posted on the website of the Tibet Daily newspaper.

It gave no further details on Danzeng's background or reasons for his
removal.

It said he had been replaced by Luosang Jiumei, another ethnic Tibetan
who has been vice secretary of the Communist Party committee of the
capital Lhasa since 2004 after occupying a long list of district posts.

The change is believed to be the first announced by China following
deadly rioting that hit Lhasa on March 14 and spread to
Tibetan-populated areas of adjacent Chinese provinces.

The crisis, the biggest challenge to China's rule of Tibet in decades,
appeared to catch authorities off-guard.

China has so far maintained the violence was instigated by
pro-independence forces loyal to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader,
the Dalai Lama, denying that Chinese political and religious controls
were responsible for fuelling public anger in the region.

The announcement on Sunday gave only the Chinese versions of the two
men's names. Their actual Tibetan names could not be immediately confirmed.

It also announced a reshuffle of several other posts, mainly Tibetan
judicial positions.

It was not immediately clear if those reshuffles were part of normal
rotations or a consequence of the unrest.

The protests began in Lhasa to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959
uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, an event that saw the Dalai Lama
flee to India where he was lived ever since.
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