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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?"

Tibetan monk killed in clash in western China

March 31, 2009

March 30. 2009

BEIJING Mar 30 (Reuters) - A Tibetan monk was
killed and eight people were hurt when Tibetan
farmers and soldiers clashed in China's western
Sichuan province late last week, local sources told Reuters on Monday.

The clash erupted on Friday after Tibetan farmers
in Dandu township refused to sign a pledge
committing to plant a certain amount of their
land with crops and armed police were called in.

One monk named Panchou Lede was killed, said a
senior monk at the Hor Drago monastery, known in
Chinese as the Shouling monastery.

The dead monk had been organizing farmers to
refuse to plant crops, an employee at the
People's Hospital in Luhuo county said,
confirming the death but attributing it to a motorbike accident.

Tibetan areas in western Sichuan and elsewhere
have been under lockdown this month, the
anniversary of major protests last year against
Chinese rule and the 50th anniversary of a failed
Tibetan uprising that resulted in the Dalai Lama's exile.

But reports of isolated incidents in Tibetan
areas of Sichuan and Qinghai provinces have
trickled out, underscoring lingering tensions. A
week ago, police detained nearly 100 monks after
hundreds of people rioted in Qinghai.

Ties between police and Tibetan farmers in Luhuo
county, in the high grasslands of the Tibetan
plateau, have long been tense, the hospital employee said.

Last Thursday, a county official traveled to
several villages in Luhuo to promote planting of
spring crops, according to the prefectural
government website. It showed photos of smiling
farmers with newly broken earth.

His visit sparked efforts by officials in Dandu
to enforce the pledge with signatures the following day, the sources said.

Tibetans in western Sichuan put up the fiercest
resistance to the Communist Party's land reform
policies in the 1950s, and tensions have persisted since.

Meanwhile, foreign tourists will be allowed back
into Tibet proper from April 5 because the
troubled region will be "harmonious and safe" by
then, the official Xinhua news agency quoted a top tourism official as saying.

Tibet as well as ethnic Tibetan areas of other
Chinese provinces were closed to outsiders during the anniversary period.

"Tibet will resume receiving foreign tourists as
of April 5, and we warmly welcome them," Xinhua
quoted the head of Tibet's tourism department as saying on Sunday.

Foreigners still need special permits, in
addition to a Chinese visa, if they want to visit the region.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom, Writing by Lucy Hornby, Editing by Dean Yates)
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