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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 parades Olympic torch in tense Tibet -- Summary

June 23, 2008

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)
June 21, 2008

Beijing -- The Olympic torch was paraded through Lhasa, the capital
of China's Tibet region, under tight security and surveillance on
Saturday. At the beginning of the torch-lighting ceremony, hundreds
of onlookers stood for a minute of silence in memory of the victims
of the tragic earthquake in China's Sichuan province last month.

The relay travelled along Lhasa's Beijing Road and passed a square in
front of the Potala Palace, the former seat of the exiled Dalai Lama.

State television showed small crowds of spectators lining the route
with national flags during the highly organized event.

Hundreds of police were on the streets on the eve of the relay on
Friday, part of the route was fenced off, a permit system was used
for spectators and phone calls were blocked or monitored, according
to Matt Whitticase of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign. He quoted
contacts in Lhasa.

Nicole Boellhof of German broadcaster ARD said there was an
"atmosphere of fear" in city amid a "massive military presence" on Saturday.

Fences and anti-terrorist nail boards were used to keep vehicles and
pedestrians away from the torch parade, and groups of paramilitary
police stood at the entrances to many city centre streets, Boellhof
said by telephone from Lhasa.

Most shops were closed and local residents were reportedly told to
stay indoors during the parade, she said. Boellhof said she saw no
monks or pilgrims on Friday near the Jokhang temple, the most
important Tibetan Buddhist site in Lhasa, which is normally full of
worshippers.

"With the region flooded by security forces and largely sealed off to
tourists and journalists following the March demonstrations, taking
the torch toTibet is a highly politicized gesture of control," Sharon
Hom, the director of US-based Human Rights in China, said in a
statement on Saturday.

"This provocative decision with the blessing of the International
Olympic Committee could aggravate tensions and undermine the fragile
process to find a peaceful long-term solution for Tibet and the
region," Hom said.

The government late Friday said it had released 1,157 Tibetans
involved in rioting in Lhasa in March. Another 116 people remained in
custody and 42 had already been convicted of crimes including arson,
robbery and "gathering to assault state organs", the official Xinhua
news agency said.

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

Exiled Tibetan groups and their supporters also 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.

But on Friday the government said it would take journalists from 29
media organizations, including ARD, to 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-Chinese protests and rioting in
many Tibetan areas of the country in March and April.
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