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China plans quick trials for more than 1,000 Tibet detainees

April 4, 2008

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 3, 2008

BEIJING: More than 1,000 people have been arrested or turned themselves
in to the police in connection with deadly rioting last month in the
Tibetan capital of Lhasa, one of the city's top officials said.

Trials will be held before May 1, the deputy Communist Party secretary
of Lhasa, Wang Xiangming, was quoted Thursday as saying in the official
Tibet Commerce newspaper. The quick scheduling of the trials is an
apparent sign of the government's determination to close the book on the
events well before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing on Aug. 8.

Wang's remarks offered the most complete picture yet of the scope of the
crackdown on the largest and most sustained anti-government protests in
Tibetan areas across western China in almost two decades.

Beijing sent thousands of police and soldiers to the area to maintain an
edgy peace, hunt down protest leaders and cordon off the Buddhist
monasteries where monks led protests that began peacefully on March 10.
The protests turned violent four days later.

Wang said 800 people had been arrested over the violence in Lhasa, while
another 280 had surrendered to take advantage of a police offer of
leniency. The government said 22 people died in the unrest.

The publication of Wang's remarks came as Reuters, citing the World
Uighur Congress, an exile group, reported that the police in Kashgar, in
the Xinjiang region, had arrested 70 people, fearing trouble when the
Olympic torch passes through the city in June.

Xinjiang, in the northwest of China, is another autonomous region with a
large population of ethnic minorities. In the case of Kashgar, many
residents are Muslim Uighurs. On Wednesday, Chinese officials said that
Xinjiang protests had been staged in late March by Islamic separatist
groups seeking to foment a broader uprising in the region, the largest
one on March 23 in the city of Hotan.

In another apparent indication of Beijing's haste to return Tibet to
normal, the Tibetan tourism authority announced Thursday that the region
would reopen to foreign tourist groups on May 1, in time for a national
three-day vacation.

Tour operators, hoteliers and restaurant owners have complained of major
losses due to the closure of the region's borders as part of the massive
security clampdown.

The Tibet Daily newspaper said Thursday that Zhang Qingli, the Communist
Party chief of the entire Tibet Autonomous Region, had ordered officials
to direct ideological education at young people, focusing on negative
portrayals of Tibet prior to the communist invasion in 1950. He also
called for continuing denunciations of the political agenda of the Dalai
Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Henry Paulson, the U.S. Treasury secretary and the highest-ranking U.S.
official to visit Beijing since the anti-government riots in Lhasa, said
he had appealed to Chinese leaders to engage their critics.

"I expressed our concerns about the violence," Paulson said Wednesday,
"and urged a peaceful resolution through dialogue."
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