Join our Mailing List

"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 rules out 'big problems' during riot anniversaries

March 6, 2009

ABC News/Reuters
March 5, 2009

The governor of China's western region of Tibet said he did not expect any major disturbances during two sensitive anniversaries next week, including the first anniversary of deadly riots in the regional capital, Lhasa.

Many Tibetans have resented Chinese rule since the 1959 flight into exile of their revered spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the 50th anniversary of which falls on March 10.

On March 14 last year, Lhasa erupted into riots that spilled over into ethnically Tibetan areas across the Himalayan plateau.

A Tibetan crowd burned shops belonging to Han Chinese and Hui Muslims, killing 19 people.

"There won't be any big problems," Tibet Governor Qiangba Puncog told reporters on the sidelines of China's annual session of Parliament when asked about the anniversaries.

"Common people are very calm and very confident in the government and the party. Everyone feels that way."

Beijing brands the Dalai Lama a "splittist", or separatist, and accuses him of stoking last year's troubles, which led to anti-China protests during the international leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay.

The Dalai Lama denies the charges.

But Qiangba Puncog acknowledged that other dissatisfactions helped fuel the protests.

"There were all kinds of people, some of whom weren't satisfied with our policies, or had opinions about them, or because our Government work hadn't been fully completed. Not everyone was a splittist," he said.

Tibet lockdown

Tibet, meanwhile, is in lockdown and closed to most foreigners for the month of March.

Armed paramilitaries patrol Lhasa, and even the movement of locals is restricted.

During a "strike hard" campaign that began in January, cultural activities, including some music, were targeted.

A local newspaper said some people had been detained for downloading "reactionary" songs to their cell phones.

"A lot of people make rumours. They are using these ways to foment splittist activities," Qiang Puncog said.

The Government plans big celebrations in Beijing and Lhasa to mark March 28, which was declared "Serf Liberation Day" in January to commemorate the formation of the communist government 50 years ago.

"Only a few people are influenced by the Dalai Lama. Most people want development and to improve their lives," Qiang Puncog said.

"Unity and stability bring prosperity. Separatism and trouble-making bring disaster. We need to develop and improve our lives and in order to do that, we need stability."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank