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Tibet activist group: China detains scores of Buddhist monks

May 1, 2008

By TINI TRAN

BEIJING, April 30, 2008 (AP) — China has detained scores of Buddhist
monks over the past month, a Tibet activist group said Wednesday, a day
after six monks were sentenced in the first trial of rioters since
deadly violence in Tibet last month.

The International Campaign for Tibet said more than 160 people were
detained from several monasteries in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and
neighboring provinces during April.

Authorities removed at least six monks from the Nechung monastery, eight
from the Nalanda monastery and rounded up at least 60 people, including
monks from the Pangsa monastery, the Washington-based group said in a
six-page statement.

The group also said up to 100 monks were detained at the Rongwu
monastery in the neighboring province of Qinghai.

The U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia also reported that two nuns
in Sichuan province were detained for protesting.

There was no way of independently verifying either the activist group's
claims or the radio report. The International Campaign for Tibet said it
received its information from Tibet sources but did not provide more
details.

Their reports follow mass anti-government riots and protests in Lhasa
last month. The riots and subsequent crackdown by Chinese authorities
have drawn worldwide attention to China's human rights record and its
rule in Tibet ahead of August's Beijing Olympics.

On Tuesday, a Chinese court in Lhasa sentenced 30 people, including six
monks, to jail terms ranging from three years to life for their
involvement in the riots that erupted in Lhasa on March 14.

Three of the people were given life sentences, including a Buddhist monk
identified as Basang who led 10 people to destroy local government
offices, burn down shops and attack policemen, the official Xinhua News
Agency said.

The other two men given life sentences — a driver and a businessman —
were convicted of inciting others to commit arson and loot shops during
the riots, Xinhua said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned the one-day trials in Lhasa,
saying the defendants "were tried on secret evidence behind closed doors
and without the benefit of a meaningful defense by lawyers they'd chosen."

"Guilty or innocent, these Tibetans are entitled to a fair trial,"
Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in
a statement Wednesday.

The White House said it had seen the reports about the sentencing, and
is concerned.

"We don't think that anyone should break the law, but we also believe in
freedom of expression and assembly," White House press secretary Dana
Perino said Wednesday.

The speedy trials are one sign that China is attempting to wrap up the
punishment phase of its latest campaign to assert control in Tibet.

China has said 22 people died in the riots, while Tibet's
government-in-exile said Tuesday it believes at least 203 Tibetans were
killed in the ensuing crackdown.

The estimate was compiled from a combination of the government's own
sources, Tibetan exile groups and official Chinese media. It was
impossible to independently verify the information.

But in a sign that the unrest was continuing despite the government
pouring thousands of security officials into Tibetan areas, Xinhua
reported late Tuesday that a policeman and an alleged "riot leader" were
shot dead during an attempted arrest in northwestern Qinghai Province.

Xinhua said police moved to arrest the suspected riot leader Monday
after a monthlong investigation into a riot on March 21. He resisted and
was killed by other officers in a gunbattle, it said.
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