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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetans protesting Chinese company rounded up

November 11, 2009

Radio Free Asia (RFA)
November 9, 2009

HONG KONG, Nov. 6 -- Police in China have rounded
up and bundled onto buses nearly 100 Tibetans
protesting outside a company in the northeastern
municipality of Tianjin that they say cheated
them through a pyramid scheme, a spokesman for the group said.

"We are in Tianjin right now. I was placed in a
bus, and we are about to leave for Chengdu," in
the southwestern province of Sichuan, Tsephel, a
spokesman for the protesters, said.

"All the Tibetan protesters were dumped into
different vehicles. Around 5 a.m., when we were
sleeping, more than 3,000 armed police attacked
us. They beat us, handcuffed us, and forced us to
board different vehicles. There were more than
100 vehicles in the parking lot," he said in a telephone interview.

Tsephel estimated the number of protesters at 98 people.

Police beat some of the protesters and dragged
them into waiting vehicles, he said, adding,
"Many of us were hurt, and one person was so
severely beaten that he fainted and fell to the ground."

No comment was available from the local police,
who hung up when contacted by telephone.

No power to intervene

Government officials who had been sent to Tianjin
to urge the group to stop protesting were unable to intervene.

"They [the officials] came from the TAR [the
Tibetan Autonomous Region], Qinghai, and
Sichuan," he said. "They couldn’t do anything.
They were assigned to convince us to stop
protesting. When we talked to them, they expressed their helplessness."

"I think we will be transported to Chengdu by bus
and train. From Chengdu we would be transported
by bus again and handed over to our respective
local authorities," Tsephel said.

"We are going to press the local government to
compensate our losses. We cannot remain quiet and
silent. Each of us should be compensated with 100,000 yuan," he said.

The Tibetans, who claim they were cheated in a
pyramid scheme run by a purported health-products
company, had staged protests in several Chinese cities.

They have been seeking restitution from TIENS at
its company headquarters in Tianjin municipality.
Tibetan investors said they were promised large
returns on initial investments but have received nothing.

Those who brought in additional investors as
instructed by the company also saw their friends
and family cheated out of funds, they said.

Authorities in Tianjin and TIENS company officials have refused to comment.

Tsering Dhargyal, 54, from the Chamdo district of
Kham in China’s western Tibet Autonomous Region
(TAR), said the group planned to sue.

Tsering Dhargyal said members of the group first
reported being contacted by company officials on
July 2, 2007, and said they had been "pushed" to accept an offer to invest.

He said the members who became investors in the
company come from all over Tibet, including Lhasa, Kham, and Amdo.

"For an initial investment of 2,800 yuan (U.S.
$410) from each individual, we were promised
great prosperity in return. They called it a big
family business, which is not only good for
Tibetan people, but for the nation as a whole. In
that way we collected money and joined the business," Dhargyal said.

Recruiting people.

Tsering Dhargyal said TIENS explained to
investors that it had no products to sell and
instead generated business "through people."

"For example, I went alone, and they said that my
responsibility was to bring two people. The next
two people must bring two more, and this would
continue until it reached the thousands," he said.

Tsering Dhargyal said that investors were paid
according to the number of people the recruited,
but they soon learned that it was impossible to
reach the quotas TIENS had set for them.

He said he had sold all of his possessions to
invest in the company and attend the training sessions.

"We sold our land and animals to cover the
expense to come [to mainland China] in the hope
of becoming rich, but only now realize it was a scam."

Original reporting by Lobsang Choephel for RFA’s
Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul.
Written for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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