Arrests of Tibetans continue: Lhasa prisoners disappear

AsiaNews / RFA, Feb 22, 2010

Dharamsala, India -- Hundreds of people, including Buddhist monks and nuns, gathered for a peaceful sit-in. The aim is to know what happened to the more than 7 thousand protesters arrested in March 2008. The police charge them without giving answers. Little hope after the meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama.

In a rare sign of protest, hundreds of Tibetans demonstrated peacefully against China on the day of the Lunar New Year. The demonstrators asked the Chinese government to release their compatriots, who were arrested during protests that erupted in Tibet in March 2008. The police charged and removed the protesters, arresting three people.

Meanwhile, after the expected meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama said he was "comfortable" about the low profile reception at the White House: "After 60 years of exile, I am used to this. The important thing is to see each other face to face, the rest does not matter much". This confirms the theory of some analysts, according to who this American administration, also because of the economic crisis that ties it to Beijing, does not intend to address the issue of Tibet.

In any case, the local population does not seem to lose hope. According to eyewitnesses, the unexpected protest occurred in south-western province of Sichuan. Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns, from the monasteries of Gede and Se and convent of Mani, met in the town of Ngaba, which the Chinese call Aba.

According Dekyi Dolma, a nun of Ngaba residing in Dharamsala, "at least eight or nine” places of worship that have joined the protest. “They came together to stage a peaceful sit-in and to ask the authorities for information on what happened to the large number of Tibetans arrested in 2008. There were also children at the event, but police surrounded them and forced them to leave. Three people, who have not done anything, have been arrested. "

According to official sources in Beijing, the protests in March ended with the death of 22 people. According to the Tibetan government in exile, however, the victims are over 220 in addition, a further 7 thousand Tibetans were arrested and nothing is known of their whereabouts.

According to local sources, in these last two weeks controls in Tibet and in provinces of China where the ethnic Tibetans live have been intensified. The reason is the meeting between the Dalai Lama and Obama, which was held on 18 February. Defying the authorities, some Tibetans gathered on the night of 17 to celebrate the meeting, which for them means that Washington is still interested in the situation of Tibet.

The reception of the Buddhist leader in the White House, however, has severely dampened the enthusiasm. Received in the map room, and not in the Oval Office, the Nobel Peace Prize winner was even exited from the back entrance. Obama has expressed "support for human rights of Tibetans living in China," but he no longer wants to comment on the meeting.
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