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China steps up attacks on Dalai Lama

April 2, 2008

Associated Press
Monday , March 31, 2008

Beijing, March 31: China stepped up attacks against the Dalai Lama on
Monday as authorities apprehended suspects in four arson and murder
cases stemming from anti-government riots that engulfed the Tibetan
capital in mid-March.

Jiang Zaiping, the vice chief of the Public Security Bureau in the
Tibetan capital of Lhasa, said investigators have arrested the suspects
responsible for arson attacks on three shops – including the clothing
outlet where five young women were burned to death - and one in nearby
Dagze county, the Tibet Daily newspaper reported Monday.

A total of 414 suspects have been arrested in connection with the
anti-government riots, Jiang was quoted as saying. Another 298 people
have turned themselves in, he said.

The Tibetan regional government also announced that the families of two
of the women killed were given compensation of 200,000 yuan (US$28,170;
euro17,800) each, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

An official who answered the telephone at the Lhasa Public Security
Bureau said senior officials were all not available to give details. He
refused to give his name. It was unclear how many suspects had been
directly involved in the four arson cases.

The government has promised to give the same amount of compensation to
the families of 18 civilians killed. China's total number of deaths from
the riots also includes one policeman and three people who died jumping
through windows to escape arrest.

Tibet's government-in-exile has said that 140 Tibetans were killed
during the protests.

"The compensation is a huge sum of money for a rural family like mine. I
am grateful to the government's care and consolation, though nothing
could bring my daughter back," He Hongli, father of 19-year-old He
Xinxin, was quoted as saying.

The government has highlighted the burning deaths as a way to show that
Tibetans were responsible for the violence that mainly targeted Han Chinese.

The anti-Chinese protests sparked demonstrations in recent weeks by
ethnic Tibetans in neighboring provinces, becoming the most sustained
challenge to China's rule in the Himalayan region since 1989.

China has consistently blamed the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual
leader, and his supporters for being behind the protests that began
March 10 when Tibetan monks from Lhasa's main monasteries marched to
commemorate a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

In the wake of the subsequent crackdown by Chinese forces, Beijing has
come under intense international scrutiny over its human rights
policies, causing embarrassment to China as it prepares to host the
summer Olympic Games in August.

In turn, China has turned up its attacks against the Dalai Lama, who it
has accused of trying to sabotage the Games in an effort to promote
Tibetan independence.

A Monday commentary by Xinhua said if the Tibetan leader "really wishes
to be a simple Buddhist monk, it's high time for him to stop playing
politics and cheating people, Westerners in particular, with his
hypocritical 'autonomy' claims.'

"The self-proclaimed spiritual leader has obviously forgotten his
identity, abused his religion and played too much politics," the
commentary said.

World leaders from the U.S., Australia and the European Union have
repeatedly pressed for China to begin talks with the Dalai Lama.

In a recent interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television,
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao again repeated that resumption of any dialogue
would be contingent on the Dalai Lama giving up "independence"
activities and agreeing that Tibet and Taiwan were part of China. But
Wen also gave a more nuanced plea, asking the Tibetan leader to "utilize
his influence to stop the occurrence of violent activities in Tibet."

Last week, under heavy pressure by foreign governments, China allowed
groups of foreign journalists and diplomats to visit Lhasa under close
supervision.

During the three-day visit, a group of 30 monks disrupted a
government-led tour of Jokhang Temple, shouting that they had no
religious freedom and that the Dalai Lama was not responsible for the
unrest.

On Monday, Australia said it had been given assurances that those monks
would not be harmed, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said.
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