Tibetans arrested for seeking Dalai Lama’s return

By James Peng, Feb 18, 2009

Lhasa, Tibet (China) -- Chinese security forces arrested 21 Tibetans in the southwestern province of Sichuan in the past three days for demanding the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, a human rights group said.

Lobsang Lhundup, a Buddhist monk, was held Feb. 15 in Sichuan’s Karze Tibet Autonomous prefecture, the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said on the Web site of the Tibet government-in-exile yesterday. As many as 20 other protesters have been arrested, the Centre said today.

A spokesman at the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, who wouldn’t give his name, declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News by phone.

China’s military began a crackdown in January in the run-up to next month’s 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Beijing’s rule in Tibet. The region has been tense since the biggest anti-Chinese protests in 20 years broke out last march.

The government-in-exile, based in Dharamsala in northern India, said as many as 209 people were killed in the unrest while China says 18 civilians and one police officer died.

Police detained 81 suspects during operation “Strike Hard” by Jan. 24, according to Amnesty International and the government-in-exile.

Use of Force

The Tibet center condemned the use of force to restrict freedom of expression and called on the authorities to release protesters. It said those detained were from nomadic families, which took up residence in Lithang County in Karze, about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Beijing.

“All the Tibetan protesters were brutally beaten, manhandled and forcibly loaded into military trucks,” the center said in its statement yesterday, citing unidentified witnesses.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after the uprising in March 1959, has campaigned for “genuine autonomy” for Tibet within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. China says it peacefully liberated Tibet and saved its people from feudal serfdom.

China last week presented a report on human rights to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report doesn’t mention abuses that are occurring across China, Amnesty said on Feb. 5.

It failed to mention the unrest in Tibet last year, the crackdown on Uighurs in the western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the persecution of religious believers, including members of the Falun Gong sect, London-based Amnesty said.

Wang Chen, the minister in charge of the State Council Information Office, acknowledged in December that progress on human rights in the nation was “less than satisfactory,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported at the time.
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