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China tightens security ahead of Tibet anniversary

March 11, 2010

Deutsche Press Agentur -- Germany (DPA)
March 9, 2010

Beijing -- China has tightened security in its
Tibet Autonomous Region ahead of Wednesday's
anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese
rule, reports said. "In recent days, there are
police officers on the street 24 hours and the
police will check everyone from outside Tibet," a
receptionist at the Xueyu Hotel in the regional
capital Lhasa told the German Press Agency dpa by telephone.

"If you want to travel here, you'd better come after March," he said.

March 10 marks the 51st anniversary of an
unsuccessful Tibetan uprising against Chinese
rule. It is also the second anniversary of a
memorial protest that escalated into ethnic violence and rioting in Lhasa.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted Ma Jun,
Lhasa's deputy police chief, as saying on Tuesday
that extra police patrols were deployed ahead of
the anniversary to "prevent crime and maintain social stability."

The Washington-based International Campaign for
Tibet quoted sources in Nepal as saying the main
border crossing between Tibet and Nepal was
"effectively closed in the lead-up to the anniversary."

Flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa were
suspended from Friday. Nepalese travel agents
said tourists may not be able to enter the Tibet
Autonomous Region from Kathmandu until "several
days after March 10," the group reported.

A Chinese government website said police in Lhasa
had questioned 435 criminal suspects during a
"Strike Hard" campaign in the city in late February and early March.

The report did not say if any of those questioned
were suspected of involvement in political
activities, but it said police detained seven
people on suspicion of involvement apparently
non-political criminal activities.

As part of the crackdown, more than 1,500 police
and security guards checked 4,115 rented rooms in
the city and questioned 7,374 migrants on the
evening of March 2, the regional government
reported on its website

Police and firemen also checked 178 hotels, 21
internet cafes, dozens of entertainment centres,
several banks, petrol stations and other buildings in Lhasa, the report said.

Authorities confiscated 348 firearms and 6,225
bullets in the operation, it said without giving details.

The India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights
and Democracy said authorities had restricted the
movement of many monks at three of Lhasa's biggest monasteries.

The city government set up a "Lhasa Neighbourhood
Committee" of volunteers charged with helping to
"maintain social order" during the anniversary, the centre reported.

The 2008 protests in Lhasa grew into widespread
demonstrations against Chinese rule in many
Tibetan areas of China over the following weeks.

The government said clashes in Lhasa left 18
people dead and hundreds injured, while Tibetan
exile groups put the death toll as high as 200
and said many protestors were shot dead by police.

Since the protests, the government has turned
away journalists from Tibetan areas, limited
access by foreign tourists and suspended communications in some places.

In January, leaders of China's ruling Communist
Party outlined a 10-year economic and social
development plan for Tibetan areas, which critics
say will only consolidate Chinese control.
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