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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China insists torch will go through Tibet

April 8, 2008

BEIJING April 6, 2008 (AFP) — China's top official in Tibet has insisted
that the Beijing Olympics torch relay will pass through the Himalayan
region as planned, in a rejection of pressure from activists around the

The iconic flame was on Sunday being carried through London, where
further demonstrations against the Chinese crackdown in Tibet are
expected, but the Dalai Lama urged Tibetan exiles not to disrupt events
leading up to the Games.

Zhang Qingli, the most senior Chinese Communist Party official in Tibet,
told local leaders that Beijing was in no mood to listen to the demands
of demonstrators calling for the route to be changed.

In a statement on the Tibet government website Sunday, Zhang said Tibet
was determined to play its part in a successful Olympics by hosting the
torch relay on June 19 and 20 and overseeing the flame's ascent of Mount
Everest in May.

He urged people to "deepen their drive to complete the glorious,
important and arduous task" of having the torch pass through Tibet.

Zhang said that most of Tibet had now been pacified after anti-Chinese
riots broke out last month.

The Dalai Lama said Sunday that protests in Tibet and nearby provinces
had disproven Chinese "propaganda" about unrest in the region, adding
the situation could no longer be "neglected".

The exiled spiritual leader repeated his call for an independent
international probe into the unrest and subsequent Chinese crackdown,
and again rejected Beijing's allegations that he was behind the trouble.

"The recent protests all over Tibet have not only contradicted but also
shattered the People's Republic of China's propaganda that except for a
few 'reactionaries', the majority of Tibetans enjoy a prosperous and
contented life," the Dalai Lama said in a statement released from his
home in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala.

"These protests have also conveyed to the world that the Tibet issue can
no longer be neglected."

Violence in Tibet and Chinese regions has triggered worldwide protests
over the Beijing Olympics, with pro-Tibet activists demanding that the
torch relay be diverted from the tiny Himalayan nation.

On Thursday, an envoy of the Dalai Lama told a US congressional
committee that running the relay in Tibet would be "deliberately
provocative and very insulting."

China blames the exiled spiritual leader for protests that began in
Tibet's capital, Lhasa, on March 10, and then escalated into rioting in
the city four days later.

Beijing says that the Dalai Lama is a separatist trying to split the
region from China, and refuses to hold talks with him until he renounces
the goal.

China says Tibetan rioters have killed 20 people in unrest. But Tibet's
government in exile Saturday raised to more than 150 the number of
Tibetans it said were killed in China's crackdown on the demonstrations.

Indicating the protests were continuing, Xinhua reported police fired
warning shots at "rioters" in Garze county, Sichuan province, on
Thursday after the protesters seriously injured a local official.

But Tibetan activist groups said police fired directly into the
protesters, killing at least eight.

The Olympic torch relay has already run into trouble after beginning its
journey around the world, which concludes with the opening ceremony of
the Games in the Chinese capital on August 8.

Protesters disrupted the torch lighting ceremony last month in Greece
and have staged demonstrations at various points along the route so far.

Following Sunday's expected protests in London, further demonstrations
are planned when the relay travels to Paris on Monday and then on to San
Francisco on Wednesday.

Pro-Tibet protesters have been joined by human rights groups which
accuse Beijing of cracking down on individual freedoms in the run-up to
the Olympics in order to silence critics of the regime.

They cite the jailing of dissidents including AIDS activist Hu Jia,
sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Thursday for subversion.

Various rights groups have called for heads of state to boycott the
August 8 opening ceremony, a proposal which has yet to be ruled out by
some leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
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