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China to step up ‘re-education’ of Tibetans

April 5, 2008

From AFP – China has warned it will step up a controversial “re-education” campaign for Tibetans after a fresh protest showed a huge security crackdown had failed to extinguish nearly one month of unrest.

The statement in the state-run Tibet Daily newspaper called for Buddhist monks to become Chinese patriots, but activist groups said the heavy-handed techniques already employed in the campaign were inflaming tensions.

Efforts by authorities to “re-educate” monks at a monastery in Sichuan province in south-west China led to protests there on Thursday in which at least eight Tibetans were killed, the activist groups said.

China’s communist rulers have been deeply angered and embarrassed over the Tibetan unrest, as it has overshadowed preparations for the Beijing Olympics and exposed other human rights issues.

Tibetans have been protesting in anger over what they say has been widespread repression under nearly six decades of Chinese rule.

In Xinjiang, a Muslim-populated region of north-west China which neighbours Tibet, there have also been protests in recent days to express similar sentiments, although not on nearly the same scale as the Tibetan unrest.

The jailing of prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia on Thursday for subversion added to concerns around the world that the human rights situation in China was getting worse instead of better ahead of the Games.

Those concerns are expected to be magnified on Sunday when the Olympic torch passes through London, with Tibetan activists and other groups vowing to add further heat to the flame there.

In the Tibet Daily article, Tibet’s deputy Communist Party chief was quoted as telling a group of influential monks that “reinforcing patriotic education” was now a top priority.

“Guide the monks so that they continue to foster the tradition of love of religion, love of the country and to hold high the banner of patriotic progress,” the paper quoted Hao Peng as saying.

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