Police Fire Tear Gas at Tibetan Monks
By TINI TRAN – 2 hours ago
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of Buddhist monks who held a second day of rare protests near Tibet's capital, U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday.
Security personnel surrounded about 500 monks Tuesday as they marched near a police station in Lhasa, a witness told the radio station's Tibetan service.
"There were probably a couple of thousand armed police ... wearing different uniforms. Police fired tear gas into the crowd," the unidentified witness said.
The demonstrators, on their way to demand the release of other monks detained in protests Monday, shouted "We want an independent Tibet" and "Free our people or we won't go back," other unidentified witnesses said.
The report could not immediately be independently confirmed.
A woman who answered the phone at the public security bureau in Lhasa denied knowledge of the incident. At the local government office, a man who identified himself as Bianba said he was aware of an incident but gave no details.
On Monday, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against China's 57-year rule over Tibet, several hundred Buddhist monks staged two major protests in Lhasa in a bold, public challenge to Beijing's authority.
Monks shouted "Free Tibet" as they marched until police dragged them apart and arrested some, an eyewitness told the advocacy group, Free Tibet Campaign.
RFA also reported that gunshots were heard overnight from the direction of a Lhasa monastery, which had been blocked off by police.
Tibet's regional government head, Champa Phuntsok, said authorities briefly detained some monks and released them after they were questioned and "counseled."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference that "some ignorant monks in Lhasa, abetted by a small handful of people, did some illegal things that can challenge the social stability."
Meanwhile, several hundred Tibetan exiles defied police orders and resumed a march to Tibet from the north Indian town of Dharmsala, where their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama presides over a Tibetan government-in-exile.
The march was to protest the Beijing Olympics. Indian police said it violated an agreement between New Delhi and the government-in-exile.
Neither the exile government nor the Dalai Lama has authorized the march.
Tibet related to China's sovereignty and integrity: Minister
Beijing (PTI): Asserting that Tibet was related to the countrys sovereignty and territorial integrity and not an ethnic or religious issue, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Wednesday said more and more countries should see through the attempt of the Dalai Lama to split China.
"More and more countries in Europe have recognized that this issue concerns Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity," Yang told reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing session of Chinas parliament, the National Peoples Congress (NPC).
Yang, who was asked about the Dalai Lama in the context of Sino-European relations, said the German government had recently explicitly stated that it recognized Tibet as part of China and that it did not support or encourage any attempt to seek Tibetan independence.
"We hope more and more countries will move in this direction and more and more people will see through the Dalai Lamas attempt to split China," Yang said.
China had on Tuesday dismissed the Dalai Lamas charge of religious repression and "unimaginable and gross" violation of human rights in Tibet leveled against Beijing and also flayed attempts to link the Olympics with Tibet.
The Dalai Lama had made the strongly worded remarks in a speech to mark the 49th anniversary of "Tibet Uprising Day" at Dharamsala in north India, the seat of Tibetan government in exile, before hundreds of Tibetans began a march to Tibet to protest against China hosting the Olympics.
Asserting that since ancient times, Tibet had been an inalienable part of China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang had said, "no country in the world has admitted it as an independent country".
He had also reminded the Indian government of a "solemn promise" made by it on the issue and its "commitment that it will not recognize the Tibet government in exile".
China fires tear gas on monks protesting in Tibet
Wed Mar 12, 2008
By Lindsay Beck and Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING (Reuters) - Thousands of Chinese security personnel fired tear gas to try to disperse more than 600 monks taking part in a second day of rare street protests in Tibet, a source and Radio Free Asia said on Wednesday.
The Tibet demonstrations follow a string of marches around the world to commemorate the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule in the remote, mountainous region that has become a flashpoint for protesters ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
"The police were armed with electric prods. Other uniformed security forces had firearms," the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
"The monks chanted: 'Release our people'," the source said, quoting a witness. The group, from the Sera Monastery, also shouted "We want human rights and freedom", the source said.
On Monday, 300 monks defied authorities by staging a march in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, which a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman described as "an illegal activity that threatened social stability".
Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1950 and nine years later the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, fled into exile after a failed revolt against Chinese rule.
Tibet has since become a point of contention between Chinese Communist leaders and those who advocate independence or greater autonomy for the region.
Radio Free Asia said the monks from the Sera Monastery were demanding the release of fellow monks detained for protesting a day earlier.
About a dozen monks from Sera were detained earlier this month for waving a Tibetan flag and shouting pro-independence slogans, the source said, adding that government officials said they had been rounded up for "very serious" crimes.
The pro-Tibet protests around the world in the last week and the demonstrations within the heavily policed region itself are precisely what China's Communist rulers are keen to avoid ahead of the Olympics in August.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told unwelcome critics to back off on Wednesday, accusing them of violating the Olympic Games charter keeping politics away from sports.
"More and more countries ... have recognised that this issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is not a religious or ethnic issue," Yang told a news conference.
On Wednesday, reports said China had closed the north face of Mount Everest to expeditions until after the Olympic torch ascends its peak in early May.
The Expedition Web portal www.mounteverest.net carried a notice on its site from the Mountaineering Association of Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China asking climbers to postpone their ascents until after May 10.
"Concern over heavy climbing activities, crowded climbing routes and increasing environmental pressures will cause potential safety problems in Qomalangma areas," said the notice, dated March 10. "We are not able to accept your expedition, so please postpone your climbing project until after May 10."
Everest, where five Americans unfurled "Free Tibet" banners last year, is known in China by its Tibetan name, Qomalangma.
India, whose hill station town of Dharamsala is home to Tibet's government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, also saw a spurt of activity over the issue of who rules the Buddhist region.
In New Delhi, about 40 Tibetan nuns tried to storm the Chinese embassy, but were turned back and detained by Indian police, who briefly used water cannon on the protesters.
Around 500 Tibetan women also marched peacefully through the streets of Dharamsala, activists said.
And around 100 marchers, including monks, nuns and young people born in exile, set off on the third day of their march from Dharamsala to Tibet, closely watched by Indian police and officials who hope to keep them within the district of Kangra.
(Additional reporting by Desmond Boylan in New Delhi)
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