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China detains 81 people in Tibet crackdown: media

January 29, 2009

January 28, 2009

BEIJING (AP) - At least 81 people in Tibet have been detained for
suspected criminal activity amid a security sweep in the Himalayan
region, including two who are being held for having "reactionary music"
on their mobile phones, state media reported.

Tibet independence advocates said Wednesday the anti-crime crackdown
appeared to be aimed at intimidating Tibetans ahead of sensitive
anniversaries in coming weeks, including the 50th anniversary of a
crushed independence uprising.

China has been preparing for the possibility of more unrest in Tibet
since deadly rioting in the capital Lhasa on March 14 last year sparked
the biggest anti-government protests among Tibetans in decades ? and a
major military crackdown.

The public security bureau of Lhasa, the region's capital, launched a
"strike hard" campaign against crime on Jan. 18, with raids on numerous
residential areas, rented rooms, hotels, guesthouses, Internet cafes and
bars, the Tibetan Daily said in a report on the China Tibet News.

By Saturday, authorities had detained 51 people for unspecified criminal
activities and taken in another 30 people for robbery, prostitution,
theft, according to the report dated Sunday.

Two people were being held because "reactionary music" was found in
their cell phones, the report said.

A woman who answered the phone at the Lhasa public security bureau hung
up after saying the office was not authorized to speak with the media.
Calls to the Lhasa government office rang unanswered Wednesday amid a
weeklong national holiday to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The International Campaign for Tibet said the latest "strike hard"
campaign "appears to be intended to intimidate Tibetans still further"
ahead of the Tibetan New Year in late February and the period in March
that marks the 1959 independence uprising and the Dalai Lama's flight to
India.

The 'strike hard' campaigns are crime crackdowns in which normal arrest
and prosecution procedures are usually waived to maximize the numbers
detained. Though they normally focus on criminals, in places like Tibet
and the restive northwest region of Xinjiang, people suspected of
anti-government activities are also targeted.

In December, Chinese state media reported that authorities in Tibet
detained 59 people accused of disseminating rumors aimed at inciting
ethnic tension and were cracking down on illegal downloads of
"reactionary music" online.
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