West protests as China threatens Tibetans
From CNN – China’s threats to crush the Tibetan uprisings were followed by protests in Britain and India on Saturday, while European politicians again raised the prospect of boycotting the Beijing Olympics if violence continues.
The Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily urged “the shattering of the conspiracy and sabotaging activities of the ‘Tibet independence’ forces” on Saturday.
Beijing also released a “Most Wanted” list of 21 protesters as it seeks to quell the largest challenge to China’s control of the region since the 1959 uprising.
But in London, hundreds of people protested outside China’s embassy in a gathering organized by the Free Tibet Campaign, among other activist groups.
“The Chinese are worried about their public image, their global image at the Olympics. We’re worried about lives,” Chonpel Tsering, a Tibetan who has lived in London since 1982, told The Associated Press.
“We know some have been killed and hundreds, perhaps thousands have been arrested.”
Campaigner Matt Whitticase told AP that the protesters want the British government to force China to allow the Red Cross and the United Nations into Tibet.
He said the organizations should be allowed to give medical treatment to those hurt in the violence, and to objectively report on what was happening there.
Campaigners also want China to lift its ban on allowing foreign journalists into Tibet.
MP Kate Hoey, of Britain’s ruling Labour party, was expected to address the demonstration when the march ended in Trafalgar Square, alongside the chairman of the Tibetan community in the UK, Sonam Frasi, and former political prisoner Ngawang Sangdrol.
Meanwhile, the president of the European Union’s Parliament said Saturday that the region’s countries should not rule out threatening China with an Olympic boycott if violence continues in Tibet.
“Beijing must decide itself, it should immediately negotiate with the Dalai Lama,” Hans-Gert Poettering told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“If there continue to be no signals of compromise, I see boycott measures as justified.”
France’s foreign minister Bernard Kouchner has already this month backtracked from his suggestion of a boycott of the Olympics’ opening ceremonies, saying that some economic decisions must be made “at the expense of human rights.”
The games will be staged from August 8-24.
On Saturday in Dharmsala — the seat of headquarters of Tibet’s government-in-exile — hundreds of protesters carrying Tibetan and Indian flags marched through the streets of the northern city to pledge their support to the Dalai Lama and voice their disapproval of China’s crackdown in the region.
Many of the roughly 500 protesters were local Indian businessmen, shouting slogans like “Keep fighting Tibetans” and “Long Live the Dalai Lama.”
“India has had a long relationship with Tibetans,” Ram Swarup, a prominent local businessman, told AP. “We are concerned about what’s happening in Tibet and are here to show our solidarity to the Tibetan people.”
Beijing has smothered Tibetan areas with troops, cracking down after March 10 protests marking the anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule turned violent four days later.
Beijing’s official death toll from the rioting is now 22, but the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile has said 99 Tibetans have been killed.
The protests, which started in Lhasa on the March 10 anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule, turned violent four days later and touched off demonstrations among Tibetans in three other provinces.
Beijing has portrayed the protests as having been instigated by supporters of the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.
“We must see through the secessionist forces’ evil intentions, uphold the banner of maintaining social stability … and resolutely crush the ‘Tibet independence’ forces’ conspiracy,” the People’s Daily said in an editorial.
However, the United States on Friday joined the debate, with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a Democrat — her support to the Tibetan cause on a visit to the Dalai Lama at his headquarters.
AP reported that she called China’s crackdown “a challenge to the conscience of the world” and dismissed Beijing’s claim that the Dalai Lama was behind the fighting as making “no sense.”
In response to worldwide criticism, Beijing has begun releasing tallies of statements of support from foreign governments and trying to get its version of events before the international community.
On Friday, authorities intensified a manhunt for 21 people accused of violence, posting their photos on major Internet portals.
The suspects are accused of endangering national security, and cited for beating, smashing, looting and arson. One was shown wielding a long sword, and another was a mustached man who had been shown on news programs slashing another with a foot-long blade.
Outside of Lhasa, Beijing has deployed troops across a wide area of western China, where more than half of China’s 5.4 million Tibetans live, AP reported.