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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 report: 76 sentenced so far for Tibet riots

February 12, 2009

February 11, 2009

BEIJING (AP) — China has sentenced 76 people and detained more than 950
since last year's deadly anti-government riots in Tibet, state media
said Wednesday.

The government has released few details of the aftermath of the March 14
violence, the largest uprising against Chinese rule in nearly 50 years.
Beijing says 22 people died, but Tibetan supporters say many times that
number were killed in the protests and subsequent military crackdown.

The report by the official Xinhua News Agency attributed the latest
figures to Nyima Tsering, a Tibetan Communist Party official, but did
not elaborate on what the sentences were, what charges they faced, or
what happened to those detained.

The figures, however, indicate the legal process is ongoing. Authorities
said in November that 55 people had been sentenced.

Last month, China launched a security sweep ahead of one of the region's
most sensitive events in years — the 50th anniversary in March of a
failed uprising that saw the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader,
flee to exile.

China says Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven
centuries and denounces the Dalai Lama as a separatist. Beijing, which
maintains a tight grip in the region, has said the March protests were
part of a violent campaign by the Nobel Peace laureate and his
supporters to overthrow Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama has denied involvement in violence and says he wants only
greater autonomy for the remote Himalayan region.

In preparation for the possibility of more unrest, the public security
bureau of Lhasa started a "strike hard" campaign against crime, with
raids on residential areas, Internet cafes, bars, rented rooms, hotels
and guesthouses, state media has reported. At least 50 people have been
detained so far, the reports said.

"Illegal elements will be struck down if they conduct illegal
activities," Wednesday's Xinhua report quoted Cao Bianjiang, the deputy
mayor of Lhasa, as saying.

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

The efforts also come ahead of Tibetan new year celebrations, which
begin Feb. 25.

"There's no reason not to celebrate," said Nyima Tsering, the party
official. "We live in such happiness."
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