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Love-struck German student dodges ban to visit Tibet

March 15, 2009

Submitted by Mohit Joshi on Sat, 03/14/2009 (DPA)


Hong Kong  - A love-struck German student has been deported from Lhasa
after dodging a ban on foreigners to visit his Tibetan girlfriend, a
news report said Saturday.

Tillman Blimke, 22, who is studying in Beijing, slipped into Tibet a
month ago with the help of friends to be reunited with a girlfriend in
Shannan south of Lhasa whom he fell for on a previous visit, the South
China Morning Post reported.

Despite a blanket ban on foreigners entering Tibet ahead of the 50th
anniversary last week of the Dalai Lama's flight, and Saturday's first
anniversary of the 2008 riots, Blimke managed to travel extensively
across Tibet, the newspaper said.

He visited Linzhi, 600 kilometres south of Lhasa, and Ali in the
northwest as Tibetan friends helped him dodge security checkpoints and
find safe places for him to stay where officials would not pick him up.

Blimke was eventually picked up in the region's capital Lhasa on
Tuesday, when officials were doing door-to-door inspections to round up
"suspicious people" ahead of the anniversary.

He was questioned extensively before being put on a train back to
Beijing after being grilled by officials, the Hong Kong-based newspaper
reported.

"They took away my passport, took me to a local police substation and
questioned me extensively on a series of subjects, such as why I was in
Lhasa and where I had been," he said in an interview conducted on the
train back to Beijing.

"Police officers escorted me all the way to the train station. They
personally put me on board the train back to Beijing. They handed back
my passport only at the last minute, as the train was about to leave."

He said he was "enchanted by the beauty" of the remote places he visited
on his illicit trip.

"I am safe and everything is all right now," he said. "I originally
wanted to stay a bit longer."

Foreigners visiting Tibet need a special permit to enter the region and
Chinese officials have barred any foreigners from visiting during the
current sensitive period.

A Tibetan friend who helped Blimke told the newspaper: "He had to be
constantly on the move and sleep in different kinds of places. Sometimes
he would stay at friends' homes for a night or two."

Blimke could not be contacted after arriving in Beijing, the newspaper
said, but friends in Lhasa said they believed the worst punishment he
would get would be a fine. (dpa)
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