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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?"

Violent protests after monks arrested at motorcycle shop

December 3, 2007

 From The Times

November 30, 2007

Jane Macartney in Beijing

Monks and animal herders rampaged through a remote Himalayan town,
smashing government offices, cars and shops owned by Han Chinese, after
police arrested and reportedly beat three Buddhist monks.

Chinese officials said that the monks had tried to rob a motorcycle
maintenance shop in Paingar, a remote Tibetan town, but Tibetan sources
said that the shopkeeper, who was not arrested, had lashed out at the
monks. The contradictory accounts expose the rivalry in the deeply
Buddhist Himalayan region, where the majority of Tibetans owe their
allegiance to the exiled Dalai Lama rather than to the Communist Party
leaders in Beijing.

After the arrest of the monks on November 19 hundreds of herders
gathered at the Public Security Bureau in Naqu region to demand their
release. Officials said that nearly 200 people, including monks, were
involved in the violence after police refused to release them. When the
police began to film the riot to collect evidence the crowds became even
more enraged. One Tibet source said: “The herdsmen were very agitated,
they wouldn’t let the police film them.”

To restore order 800 paramilitary police were sent in, the area was
sealed off and telephone links were cut. Seven people were arrested,
including two of the monks accused of robbery and five others charged
with fanning the riot a day later.

The incident is the latest sign of discontent in Tibet, where a
heavy-handed security presence and an increasing population of ethnic
Han Chinese migrants have stirred resentment among the Tibetan majority.

Protests broke out in a largely Tibetan area in August after authorities
arrested a man at a horse racing festival who led the crowd in chanting
slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in
India in 1959. Rongyal Adrak, 53, was found guilty last month of
subversion and of inciting separatism, crimes that could lead to life
imprisonment.

Most Tibetans say that they yearn for the return of the Dalai Lama but
talks between his representatives and the Chinese Government have made
no progress.

The extent of the anger about the international profile of the exiled
leader has been highlighted by the chill cast over China’s relations
with Germany after Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, received him in
Septem-ber.China has since cancelled two sets of meetings with German
officials, including talks on human rights.
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