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Tibetans continue to defy China crackdown

BEIJING, China (CNN) — New video from China suggests that security forces have yet to gain complete control of Tibet and neighboring provinces which have suffered eruptions of anti-Chinese violence since last week.

Film of a crowd — some on horseback — attempting to storm a government building has been shot by a Canadian television crew that managed to gain access to a Chinese town in Gansu province despite attempts by Chinese authorities to keep foreign media away from the region.

On Thursday, China acknowledged for the first time that anti-government riots that rocked Tibet last week have spread to other provinces, The Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says he is ready to talk to the Dalai Lama if the Tibetan spiritual leader renounces violence and demands for Tibetan independence.

Brown said he spoke with Wen on Wednesday, pressing his government for constraint in dealing with the protesters.

But Chinese officials hold firm in their stance that the Dalai Lama masterminded the violence to undermine the Beijing Olympics and that he has demanded Tibetan independence. Wen on Tuesday called the Dalai Lama’s renunciations nothing but lies.

The Dalai Lama, who threatened Tuesday to resign as leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile if the violence got out of control, met Wednesday with leaders of several Tibetan activist groups. The younger activists, in defiance of their pacifist spiritual leader, demand Tibetan independence and are hoping to derail the Beijing Olympics. Watch first independent video of the violence in Lhasa.

The head of the Beijing Olympics said efforts by Tibetan activists to promote an international boycott of the Summer Games are doomed to failure. He also rejected demands by Tibetan activists that the Olympic torch relay be routed away from Tibet. Watch report on talk of Olympics boycott.

Members of the Canadian TV crew reached the town in Gansu province, near the Tibet border, where they videotaped hundreds of angry protesters attempting to storm a government building.

Led by several dozen villagers on horseback, about 1,000 people rushed toward the facility only to be turned back by 100 Chinese soldiers who were inside, according to Canadian TV correspondent Steve Chao. The video showed women and children among the charging throng. Watch video of horseback attack .

After they were repelled, the villagers ran to a nearby school where they tore up a Chinese flag and replaced it with the Tibetan flag. That section of Gansu province is part of historical Tibet, but it is not inside what is now known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Tibetan monks at a monastery in Sichuan province — another neighboring Tibet — sent word to exiled monks at a branch of their monastery in Dharamsala, India, that two monks were arrested after they e-mailed photographs of monks killed in protests to the news media. Internet and phone service has since been interrupted to the Amdo Ngaba Kirti Monastery in Ngaba County, the exiles told CNN.

The exiled monks said lay people in that area reported that the monks there have been ordered not to congregate for prayers on Thursday, a move they fear is a sign of an oncoming crackdown against the monastery.

Chinese officials hold firm in their stance that the Dalai Lama masterminded the violence to undermine the Beijing Olympics and that he has demanded Tibetan independence. Wen on Tuesday called the Dalai Lama’s renunciations nothing but lies.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy in Washington accused some monks of inciting beating, smashing, looting and burning sprees in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The statement said that in the past few days, more than 55 vehicles have been smashed or burned in the city, a dozen civilians have been killed, 10 officers have been seriously injured and more than 300 homes and businesses have been set on fire.

Any attempt to split China will be firmly opposed by the Chinese people of all nationalities, including the Tibetan compatriots, and is doomed to fail, the statement said.

The Chinese government’s attacks on the Dalai Lama’s motives and methods collide with international pressure for it to begin talking to the exiled Tibetan leader. U.S. Secretary Condoleezza Rice recently renewed her call for such talks and the British prime minister joined the push Wednesday.

I spoke to Premier Wen of China this morning and I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet, Brown told Parliament Wednesday.

He said he pressed Wen for constraint toward Tibet and asked that China begin talking with the Dalai Lama.

The premier told me that subject to two things the Dalai Lama has already said — that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence — that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Brown said.

It was not immediately clear if this meant the Chinese leader was ready to start that dialogue anytime soon, given Wen’s recent rejection of the Dalai Lama’s renunciations.

The Chinese premier’s refusal to accept his proclamations caused the Dalai Lama to respond with incredulity Tuesday at a news conference in Dharamsala, northeastern India, where he presides over the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The Chinese prime minister accuses me of all these things I said, he said. Absolutely not. Prime minister come here and investigate thoroughly all our files, or record my speeches. Then the prime minister will know how much is distorted by local officials.

The Dalai Lama also said that would remain spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, but said he is prepared to relinquish his leadership role in the government-in-exile if violence persists in Tibet. If things go out of control then my only option is to completely resign, he added.

The Dalai Lama met with leaders of Tibetan exile groups Wednesday gain their support for his middle way strategy of asking for autonomy — not independence — and renouncing violence. Click here for gallery of global protests.

But many of the younger activists, most of whom were born in exile and have never been allowed to visit their homeland, insist total independence from China must be their goal. Unlike the Dalai Lama, they also hope to tarnish China’s efforts as host of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Jiang Xiaoyu, vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, said Wednesday plans to include Tibet in the Olympic torch relay will not be derailed by the protests.

He also rejected suggestions that Tibetan exiles would be able to persuade Olympic athletes to boycott the opening ceremonies in August.

Olympic historian David Wallechinsky said it would be an effective protest. Some sort of boycott of the opening ceremonies, either by not carrying the national flags or, you know, toning it down or having world leaders not appear, that is something that Chinese citizens watching on television could not avoid seeing, Wallechinsky told CNN.
Tibetans continue to defy China crackdown – found here.

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March 20, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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