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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?"

Security tight for Tibet torch relay, foreign media allowed

June 23, 2008

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
Jun 20, 2008

Beijing - Security and surveillance were tightened on Friday before
an Olympic torch relay on Saturday in Lhasa, capital of China's Tibet
region, as the government took a group of foreign journalists to
watch the event.

Matt Whitticase of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign quoted
sources in Lhasa as saying hundreds of police were on the streets,
part of the route was fenced off, a permit system was used for
spectators, and phone calls were blocked or monitored.

'The Chinese authorities this week dramatically stepped up
restrictions on the amount of information being relayed by telephone
into and out of out of Tibet,' Whitticase said in a statement.

He quoted one source as saying that only Tibetans working in specific
jobs or living in the small old quarter of the city were allowed to
apply for special permits for spectators.

Whitticase said workers were erecting fences on Friday along Lhasa's
Beijing Road, a main road which joins the old and new sections of the
city and passes the Potala Palace, the former seat of the exiled Dalai Lama.

'Although it has become increasingly difficult to obtain information
from Tibet, Free Tibet Campaign has also received separate reports
that Tibetans have been banned from performing the Lingkor
circumambulation,' he said, referring to a circuit around Lhasa often
walked by Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims.

One source reported seeing 'several hundred police' on a main road
near the Potala Palace, he said.

The government said journalists from 29 media organizations would
cover the relay Saturday as well as the 'social and economic
development' of the region before returning Sunday to Beijing.

The trip is one of a handful of such visits organized by the
government to the region since anti-China protests and rioting in
several Tibetan areas of the country in March and April.

Amnesty International on Wednesday urged China to provide information
about more than 1,000 Tibetans arrested during the protests.

The Beijing Olympic organizing committee confirmed Tuesday that it
had cut the torch relay in Tibet from three days to one day, but it
gave no reason for the change.

Officials said last month that the Tibet section of the torch relay
would be 'shortened' and 'simplified' because of the need to change
the schedule after the relay was suspended for three days to mourn
the 70,000 people who died in the May 12 earthquake in neighbouring
Sichuan province.

Exiled Tibetan groups and their supporters accused the Chinese
government of taking the Olympic torch to Tibet, including a separate
leg last month to the summit of Mount Everest, to reaffirm its
sovereignty over the region.

The government suspended visits by foreign tour groups to the Tibet
Autonomous Region in March, and paramilitary police have also imposed
severe restrictions on travel by foreign journalists to other Tibetan
areas where protests erupted.

The region has always been closed to foreign journalists while
tourists need a special permit in addition to a Chinese visa, and
must register with a travel agency.
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