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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

ANALYSIS: Olympic torch travels to Tibet under cloud of oppression

June 23, 2008

By Bill Smith
Asia-Pacific News
June 20, 2008, 10:26 GMT

Beijing - Outsiders have only a vague idea of what has happened in
Tibet since mid-March, when paramilitary police and troops began a
crackdown on violent anti-Chinese protests and rioting.

The government has since sealed off the Tibet Autonomous Region and
neighbouring Tibetan areas, with the only reports coming from tightly
controlled state media and local Tibetans who have contact with
overseas support groups and Tibetan exiles.

'The complete lockdown in Tibet is allowing human rights abuses such
as arbitrary detentions, ill treatment and severe censorship to go
unreported and unpunished,' Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific
director Sam Zarifi, said earlier this week.

'Hundreds of people languish in Chinese prisons for peacefully
expressing their opinions, in appalling conditions and without their
relatives even knowing where they are,' Zarifi said.

The London-based group accused the ruling Communist Party of a
'continuing violent crackdown against protesters' and urged it to
provide information about more than 1,000 Tibetans arrested during
the protests.

The government took a group of foreign journalists to Lhasa on Friday
to watch the Olympic torch relay in the ethnically divided city, but
it was extremely unlikely that they would have any open access to
major monasteries or prisons.

The protests began on March 10, the 49th anniversary of a Tibetan
uprising against Chinese rule.

For several weeks afterwards, state television repeatedly showed
images of Tibetan rioters in Lhasa, but said little about the
protests in dozens of other places.

The government said at least 18 civilians and one police officer died
at the hands of rioters in Lhasa on March 14, and that 382 civilians
and 241 police officers were injured.

But it has not reported a single death of a protester in Lhasa or any
other Tibetan area, despite claims by Tibetan exile groups that they
have identified at least 200 Tibetans who were shot dead by police
and troops during the protests.

Some Tibetans arrested in Lhasa have already faced trial, while
several major monasteries in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas were
reportedly controlled by paramilitary police since March.

The London-based group Free Tibet said the torch would be 'paraded
down the very streets on which peaceful protests were met with brutal
crackdowns in March.'

'The Chinese government must not be allowed to exploit the Olympics
to promote the illusion that China and Tibet are free and open
societies,' Free Tibet said.

The group is campaigning for foreign leaders and other dignitaries
boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8.

Earlier this month, International Olympic Committee President Jacques
Rogge angered Tibetan independence groups when he said it was
'normal' for China to take the Olympic flame to Tibet.

'Tibet is a part of China and a region of China so it is normal that
they pass through Tibet,' Rogge said.

Mary Beth Markey, vice president of the International Campaign for
Tibet, said the IOC was 'irresponsible' for allowing the relay in Tibet.

'It beggars belief that Mr Rogge could claim anything about Tibet is
normal at the moment,' Markey said.

'It is not 'normal' that almost the entire Tibetan plateau has been
locked down; and it is certainly not 'normal' that the whereabouts of
hundreds and possibly thousands of Tibetans remain unknown with
people continuing to disappear every day,' she said.

One leading Western scholar of Tibet said in March that China's
tougher rhetoric against the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the
Dalai Lama, fuelled the unrest that led to the violent protests.

'The one person who could solve this problem immediately is the Dalai
Lama, but the unrest has almost certainly been triggered by the
Chinese renewal in 2006 of their public campaigns against him,' said
Robbie Barnett, a professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University
in New York.

China held talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama last month, but it is
unclear if any progress was made.

The government continues to accuse the Dalai Lama of pursuing
independence for Tibet, despite his frequent public renouncement of
independence in favour of maximum autonomy for Tibetans within China.

Just days after the talks with his envoys, state media again accused
the Dalai Lama of 'monstrous crimes,' including the encouragement of
violent protests.

Despite China's fierce rhetoric, the Dalai Lama recently told
Australian broadcaster ABC in Sydney that he did not support protests
by local Tibetans during the torch relay in Tibet.

He said Tibetans should respect the pride of Chinese people in
holding the Olympics, according to a transcript of his interview
posted on the official website of the Tibetan government in exile.

The Dalai Lama said it was 'better' not to disrupt the torch relay as
such protests were 'not much use.'
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