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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibet silent, shutoff on riot anniversary

March 19, 2009

By Emma Graham-Harrison,
Reuters
March 16, 2009

BEIJING -- China warned the West not to "put its fingers into" Tibet
as the anniversary on Saturday of riots in Lhasa passed with heavy
security to prevent any challenge to Beijing's rule.

Rioting broke out in Lhasa on March 14 last year after days of
protests against Chinese rule by Buddhist monks, killing 19 people
and sparking waves of protests across Tibetan areas. Exile groups say
more than 200 people died in the crackdown.

Twelve months on, a web of troops and police across Tibetan areas
deterred any flare ups and by the evening there were no reports of protests.

Matt Whitticase, a London-based spokesman for Free Tibet, a group
critical of Chinese rule in the region, said the group's contacts had
not called to report any protests on Saturday. But he also said the
region had been under a communications "shut-down", making it
difficult to collect reports.

China's state-controlled media barely mentioned last year's unrest.
The main television news on Saturday featured upbeat reports of
Tibetans urging stability and praising the government.

Tibet's Communist Party chief, Zhang Qingli, told troops in the
region that they faced a "complex and grim situation", the official
Tibet Daily said on Saturday.

"Thoroughly defeat the Dalai clique's plots to try to split the
motherland and cause chaos in Tibet," it paraphrased Zhang as saying,
though he did not directly mention last year's unrest.

Overseas activists planned to mark the anniversary with a
demonstration in New York, but the official Xinhua agency slammed
Western critics of China's rule as misguided do-gooders.

"They might as well bow their heads, mourn those who died in the
Lhasa riots last year, and think twice before putting their fingers
into something they are ignorant of again," Xinhua said in an
English-language opinion piece that appeared aimed at readers outside China.

Beijing has promised the region will be calm this year and President
Hu Jintao called for a "Great Wall" of stability there.

Tibet and ethnic Tibetan areas of surrounding provinces are under
heavy military presence and strictly off limits to foreign
journalists and even tourists. Armed police manning road-blocks
turned back would-be visitors.

A trickle of isolated protests in recent weeks, including a monk who
set himself on fire at the Kirti monastery in Western Sichuan,
suggest lingering discontent.

Many Tibetans did not celebrate their New Year in February, in silent
protest and mourning for those who died last year.

Lhasa residents reached by phone said the day was "like any other",
but declined to comment on the security situation.

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