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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China targets Tibet artists, intellectuals: report

May 23, 2010

Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING

Tue May 18, 2010 12:57am EDT

(Reuters) - China is cracking down on Tibetan intellectuals and artists
who have sought to open up discussion of the future of their region
after unrest that spread across the area in Spring 2008, an overseas
activist group said on Tuesday.

WORLD CHINA

More than 30 men and women, including writers, bloggers, singers and
environmentalists, have been detained or are imprisoned, mostly after
sharing views or information about conditions in ethnic Tibetan areas,
the International Campaign for Tibet said in a new report.

"Raging Storm: The crackdown on Tibetan writers and artists after
Tibet's Spring 2008 protests" details scores of arrests and long jail
sentences for many intellectuals.

Protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in March 2008 gave
way to deadly violence, with rioters torching shops and turning on
residents, especially Han Chinese.

At least 19 people died in the 2008 unrest, which sparked waves of
protests across Tibetan areas. Pro-Tibet groups overseas say more than
200 people were killed in a subsequent crackdown.

China's Communist Party-run government says that Tibet has historically
belonged to China, and it is spending generously there to develop a poor
remote area. Officials accuse the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled leader, of
fanning separatism.

A new generation of young, often bilingual and tech-savvy, ethnic
Tibetans have been exploring their ethnic identity in the wake of the
2008 protests, the report says.

"These (writings) have been published in blogs, articles in one-off or
unauthorized literary magazines, in books published and distributed
privately, and also in the lyrics of songs sung in public places,
uploaded onto Youtube or as cellphone ringtones," the report said.

Their efforts, which challenge the official account of the events of
2008 as a conspiracy mounted by outside forces, have prompted the most
wide-ranging suppression of Tibetan artists and intellectuals since the
Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976, it said.

"For the first time since the Cultural Revolution, singers, artists and
writers have been the target of a drive against Tibetan culture in which
almost any expression of Tibetan identity not validated by the state can
be branded 'splittist'."

Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, is introducing rules to restrict
access to printing and photocopying services, state media reported, in
what officials said was an effort to stop "illegal activities."

Under the rules, operators of printing and copying businesses in Lhasa
must be cleared by the police, and must collect the names, addresses and
identity card numbers of anyone using their services, said a report in
the Lhasa Evening News last week.

"TORTURE WITHOUT TRACE"

Among the Tibetans under pressure is civil servant, essayist and editor
Shogdung, who before 2008 had been considered a radical critic of
Tibetan traditions and close to the Chinese state after he authored an
article denouncing Buddhism.

However his latest book, "The line between Sky and Earth," is an
exploration of the 2008 protests and their impact on Tibetan identity,
and argues for the right to civil disobedience.

It includes a section apologizing for earlier views and a discussion of
the pressures and discriminations Tibetans face.

"They have made everyone, be they close or distant, powerless, helpless
and desperate," the report quotes it saying.

He was detained on April 23 this year, and his whereabouts and welfare
have been unknown since.

Two Tibetans who worked for Western NGOs received sentences of 14 years
and life, apparently for attempting to pass on information about the
situation in Tibet, the report said.

Singer Tashi Dhondup, who performed songs with lyrics mourning the dead
and ongoing repression, including one with the title 'Torture Without
Trace' was also detained in December and sentenced to 15 months of
"re-education through labor."

The Qinghai provincial government's media department declined comment on
Shogdung, Tashi Dhondup and other Tibetans detained there. The Tibetan
government could not be reached for comment.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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