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China Should Open Tibet, Defuse Tensions, Rights Group Says

February 27, 2009

By Ed Johnson

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- China should open Tibet to independent monitors
and journalists in an effort to defuse tensions before the 50th
anniversary of an anti-Chinese uprising in Lhasa next month, Human
Rights Watch said.

The government in Beijing has significantly increased the number of
security forces across Tibet in recent weeks, tightened already limited
access for international media and sealed off Buddhist monasteries, the
New York-based group said in an e- mailed statement today.

“Relying exclusively on repressive policies will only lead to increased
polarization and resentment, while further jeopardizing genuine
stability across Tibet,” Sophie Richardson, the group’s Asia advocacy
director, said in the statement.

China rejects criticism of its policies in Tibet and accuses the Dalai
Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, of fomenting unrest. The
government in Beijing says his supporters are spreading rumors to “wreck

Almost six decades after China’s army completed its takeover of Tibet,
tension is increasing around the anniversary of the March 10, 1959,
anti-Chinese uprising in the Tibetan capital. The revolt triggered an
army crackdown and prompted the Dalai Lama to flee to India.

Tibet’s government-in-exile, based in Dharamshala, northern India, says
China has stepped up its military presence in the Himalayan region to
prevent a repeat of anti-Chinese protests that broke out last March.

Chinese Crackdown

The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Dharamshala says
more than 120 Tibetans were killed and 1,000 disappeared in China’s
crackdown on that unrest. China said 18 civilians and one police officer

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters in Beijing
this week that “at present, the situation in Tibet is stable and social
order is good.” Referring to the exiled government, he said, “the Dalai
clique is creating rumors to wreck stability in Tibet, but this effort
is doomed.”

Allowing observers into Tibet would “serve as an incentive for good
behavior for crowds, which have sometimes turned violent, and security
forces, which have used disproportionate force and arbitrary detention
as tools of ordinary policing,” Human Rights Watch said.

The Dalai Lama this week called on his supporters to show restraint and
not be provoked by Chinese security forces during Tibetan New Year
celebrations that began yesterday.

China has closed Tibet to foreign tourists before next month’s
anniversary, Agence France-Presse reported, citing tour agencies and
other industry representatives.

China deployed troops in Tibet in 1950 and annexed the region a year
later. The Dalai Lama accuses the government in Beijing of committing
“cultural genocide” there and says mass migration of ethnic Han Chinese
has made Tibetans a minority in their own land.

China says it peacefully liberated Tibet and saved its people from
feudal serfdom.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ed Johnson in Sydney at
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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