Thursday, 27 March 2008
my heart is crying
I have LOADS to tell you about Paris, and I know, I know, I owe you the end story of Italy. What can I tell you, life keeps getting in the way of my writing. But today, this is too important for anything else to be here. How can the world ignore this?
The New York Times
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March 28, 2008
Protesting Monks Embarrass China During Press Tour
By DAVID BARBOZA
SHANGHAI — Tibetan monks shouting pro-independence slogans caught Chinese officials by surprise Thursday during a highly scripted tour for Western journalists in Lhasa’s central Buddhist temple, disrupting China’s effort to portray the recent Tibetan rioting as the work of violent criminal thugs and separatists.
“Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!” yelled one young Buddhist monk, who then started crying, according to an Associated Press correspondent in the tour.
Government handlers shouted for the journalists to leave and tried to pull them away during the 15-minute protest by about 30 monks at the Jokhang Monastery in central Lhasa. It was unclear whether the protesting monks were arrested.
The demonstration amounted to another embarrassment for China, which organized the press tour to help sway international opinion, which has focused on China’s heavy crackdown and arrests in the aftermath of the riots and led to talk of a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
The Chinese wanted the reporters to see damage caused by the rioters and interview Chinese victims of the violence, the worst here in 20 years.
Reporters on the tour said the monks shouted that there was no religious freedom in Tibet and that the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile, had been wrongly accused by China of responsibility for the rioting.
China’s official news agency, Xinhua, mentioned the unscripted protest in a brief dispatch, saying 12 monks “stormed into a briefing by a temple administrator to cause chaos.”
Some American news organizations were invited to send representatives on the press tour. The New York Times was not.
On Wednesday, the reporters on the tour received a detailed schedule for the trip and shown a video about the riots, said the reporter present in the group who did not want to be identified.
Before the protest by the monks, the foreign reporters had already been shown a Tibet medical clinic near to the temple that had apparently been attacked, and shown a clothing store that had been burned, according to the A.P.
The monks involved in the protest first spoke Tibetan and then switched to Mandarin so the reporters could understand them, the A.P. reported. They had rushed over to stop the reporters from being taken into an inner part of the temple, saying they were upset that a government administrator was telling the reporters that Tibet had been part of China for centuries, the A.P. said.
The monks said troops who had been guarding the temple since March 14 were removed the night before the reporters’ visit, the news agency said.
In contrast to the controls on foreign journalists, about 20 journalists from China’s state-controlled media have been allowed into Tibet and other largely Tibetan areas.
The Chinese media have been driving home Beijing’s message: that Tibetan separatists acted as terrorists during the violence, while the government responded with restraint in quelling the riots, and that innocent Chinese were the victims of looting, burning and assault.
China said Wednesday that 660 people implicated in the Tibetan protests and riots had surrendered to the authorities.
The announcement was part of the government’s effort to quell continuing unrest in the area, which includes Tibet and adjoining provinces with large Tibetan populations.
It was unclear from the announcement how many of the 660 had surrendered voluntarily and how many would be formally charged with criminal offenses. Nor was it clear whether all were ethnic Tibetans.
Tibet and neighboring provinces with large Tibetan populations are now under tight military control, with roadblocks and house-to-house searches for suspects. But there have been daily reports of protests and sporadic violence in some regions, people in those areas say.
This week, the Chinese government issued a “most wanted” list with the names of 53 people who it says took part in antigovernment protests, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 and settled in India, has insisted in recent weeks that he had no role in the violent protests and that he does not favor independence for Tibet. He has also said he opposes an Olympics boycott, and he recently offered to resign if Tibetans in western China continued to engage in violence.
Shortly after the March 14 riot, the government began forcing foreign journalists out of Lhasa. Government blockades have also prevented foreign journalists from reaching Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces.
Inside China, the state-owned media are publishing and broadcasting images of Tibetans burning and looting Chinese shops in Tibet and attacking ethnic Han Chinese. The images and reports have helped inflame anger at Tibetans among the Chinese.
Chen Yang contributed research.