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Dalai Lama Visits Italy, Germany as UN Reviews Rights in China

February 9, 2009

By James Peng

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s Buddhist spiritual leader,
will visit Italy and France next week to receive awards, at the same
time as the United Nations reviews human rights in China.

The visit “comes at a time when the Tibetan people in Tibet are facing
an increasing Chinese crackdown,” said Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, the
Dalai Lama’s representative for central and eastern Europe. “The
crackdown has created great fear amongst the Tibetans.” His statement
was published on the Tibet government-in-exile’s Web site yesterday.

China’s report to the UN on human rights omits any references to abuses
that are occurring across the country, London-based Amnesty
International said yesterday. China prepared its remarks before a Feb. 9
review with the UN Human Rights Council, an assessment held every four
years.

The report failed to mention the crisis in Tibet, the crackdown on
Uighurs in the western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the
persecution of religious followers, including members of Falun Gong,
Amnesty said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it expected to have a “constructive
dialogue” with the UN council during the review. “We also hope that
relevant organizations can objectively judge the development of China’s
human rights situation,” spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing
yesterday, when asked to comment on the Amnesty statement.

The Dalai Lama will arrive in Rome on Feb. 8 to receive honorary Italian
citizenship and will travel to Baden Baden in Germany on Feb. 10. There
he will receive the German Media Prize for his spirit of
“reconciliation, tolerance, humility and respect” and for representing
“the non-violent struggle for the rights of the Tibetan people,” the
government-in-exile said.

Tibet Crackdown

China started a crackdown in Tibet on Jan. 18 in the run-up to the 50th
anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule in March. Police
had detained 81 suspects during operation “Strike Hard” by Jan. 24,
according to Amnesty and Tibet’s government-in-exile.

Last week, the government-in-exile called on China to immediately end
the crackdown.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after the uprising in March 1959, has
campaigned for “genuine autonomy” for Tibet within the framework of the
People’s Republic of China. China says it peacefully liberated Tibet and
saved its people from feudal serfdom.

Wang Chen, China’s minister in charge of the State Council Information
Office, acknowledged in December that progress on human rights in the
nation was “less than satisfactory,” the official Xinhua News Agency
reported at the time.

According to the exiled government, the Dalai Lama sent a message to the
Chinese community on the eve of Chinese New Year on Jan. 25, saying: “I
hope and pray that in the coming year the People’s Republic of China
will be able to create a meaningful harmonious society by ensuring
equality, justice and friendship among all its nationalities.”
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