Join our Mailing List

"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?"

Analysis: Once Olympics are over there will be a settling of accounts

June 24, 2008

Jane Macartney, China Correspondent
The Times
June 23, 2008

Where maroon-robed Tibetan monks would clap their hands and shout in
spirited Buddhist debate daily, now only birdsong can be heard.
Barely a dozen tourists a day visit Sera monastery on the edge of
Lhasa and the monks are nowhere to be seen. Many are confined to
their quarters. Some have even been arrested.

Shopkeepers in the Tibetan capital are struggling to do business
since visitors stopped arriving and a huge police presence deters
locals from going out unless they must. Tibet, and its capital,
resemble regions under siege since the March 14 riot when citizens
angry at Beijing's rule rampaged in the streets, attacking ethnic Han Chinese.

The anti-Chinese violence was just the latest to erupt in Tibetan
regions since the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949. In
1989 martial law was imposed on Lhasa for 14 months after troops were
sent in to shoot Tibetans as they set fire to shops and businesses
owned by Han Chinese.

It was a fateful decision by Hu Jintao, the region's party chief. He
is now the President of China and Communist Party chief, and
bureaucrats who administer Tibet do not dare to be seen as any less
tough on anti-Chinese violence than their boss was.

One official said: "President Hu can't change his tough approach
because that was the policy that won him China's top job."

China may have stopped short of imposing martial law this time, aware
as it is of its reputation with only weeks to go before the start of
the Beijing Olympics. But the troops are in place. And the crackdown
now under way is believed to be no less severe than the measures used
to restore order after the previous big riots.

For many, the question is whether the authorities will begin to relax
their grip once the Olympics are out of the way.

Many Tibetans in Lhasa say they believe that the police presence will
be diminished and security checks will start to disappear once the
Olympics have finished. Perhaps the tourists may then start to return
and the monks will be allowed into their temple halls and even back
on to the streets.

But one Chinese analyst of Tibetan matters expected quite another
response by Beijing. "I think that once the Olympics are over we will
start to see the real crackdown.

"Now the authorities worry about international opinion, but once the
Games are over there will be a settling of accounts. Then we will see
many people being sent to jail and even tougher measures to restore order."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank