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Beijing claims Dalai plotting Olympic attacks

April 3, 2008

Mary-Anne Toy
The Age
April 3, 2008

CHINA has taken its offensive against the Dalai Lama to new heights,
claiming it has uncovered a Tibetan guerilla ring that staged the deadly
March 14 riot in Lhasa and is now preparing suicide attacks ahead of the
Olympic Games at the behest of the exiled Tibetan leader.

The Chinese Government has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the
protests that began peacefully in Lhasa on March 10 before degenerating
into the violence on March 14, but has been under international pressure
to back up its claims.

On Sunday the official Xinhua news agency released a detailed report
accusing five Tibet groups, all affiliated with the Tibetan
government-in-exile, of a conspiracy to create a "Tibetan people's
uprising", including holding training camps for "armed struggle".

On Tuesday, Ministry of Public Security spokesman Wu Heping went
further, announcing that "key suspects" in a domestic terror ring had
been arrested and confessed that they were directed by an official of
the "Dalai clique", the derogatory term for the government-in-exile in
Dharamsala, India, and other Tibetan groups.

"The next plan of the Tibetan independence forces is to organise suicide
squads for launching violent attacks," Mr Wu told a selected press
conference in Beijing. "They claim that they fear neither bloodshed nor
sacrifice."

He said one suspect allegedly admitted that from November 2006 he had
recruited 12 people for the terror network to overthrow Chinese rule.
Police searches of several monasteries in Tibetan areas had uncovered
176 guns, 13,013 bullets, 350 knives and 3.5 tonnes of explosives, he said.

Mr Wu provided no evidence linking the weapons to the Dalai Lama, but
said: "He is the one who encouraged those activities."

He said the Dalai Lama's claims that he was neither involved in nor
condoned the violence were therefore "blatant lies" and "more evidence"
would be provided later as the investigation continued.

The Dalai Lama's spokesman dismissed the allegations and reiterated that
the Dalai Lama was committed to non-violence.

The president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, Tsewang Rigzin, also
rejected claims that it supported violence. He said the congress — which
rejects the Dalai Lama's call for greater Tibetan autonomy rather than
full independence — had held training in preparation for a peaceful
march from Dharamsala to Tibet starting on March 10, which was later
blocked by the Indian Government. The camps were widely publicised and
open to international media, he said.

"It was not some kind of guerilla warfare training," Mr Rigzin said.
"All these allegations are completely baseless."

Analysts said the reference to "suicide squads" could be an attempt to
link the Dalai Lama with Muslim separatists in Xinjiang province
affiliated with the East Turkestan separatist movement, which has been
linked with al-Qaeda.

The People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, recently
alleged such a link and last month state media reported that a young
Uighur woman from Xinjiang had confessed to attempting to crash a flight
from the predominantly Muslim province to Beijing in January.

Andrew Fischer, a Tibetan researcher and fellow at the London School of
Economics, said China's claims of Tibetan suicide squads were ridiculous.

Mr Fischer said China was trying to change the non-violent image of
Tibetans into one of violence and brutality to link it with Xinjiang
separatists, who have a history of violent protests including multiple
bombings.

The official English transcript of Mr Wu's comments and state-sanctioned
English-language reports of his remarks all used the term "suicide
squads". Mr Wu used the Chinese term gan si dui, which directly
translated means "willing-to-die corps", a phrase from the 1930s and
1940s civil war and the war against Japan, referring to Mao Zedong's
communist guerillas who were willing to die if necessary.

The Chinese have a separate term for suicide bombers, which is zi sha
xing bao zha.

Requests to the Public Security Ministry for clarification on the
suicide attacks were not answered.

Journalists and other observers have been ejected from Tibet and other
areas of western China where there have been widespread demonstrations
in support of the Lhasa protests. Large parts of Gansu, Sichuan, Qinghai
and parts of northern Yunnan remain sealed off by thousands of police.
Beijing says 18 innocent civilians and a policeman were killed in the
protests, but the government-in-exile says 140 Tibetans have been killed.
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