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Tibet: The Forbidden Zone, 100 Days Before Olympic Games

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A hundred days before the opening of the Olympic Games, while China made an unexpected concession by accepting the principle of a meeting between officials from Beijing and representatives of the Dalai Lama, Tibet and surrounding regions remain cordoned off. No foreign tourist or journalist, has the right to enter the "snow country" or in most districts or prefectures of Tibetan population of the provinces of Yunnan, Gansu, Sichuan or Qingha´.

From Tibet, information is strictly filtered, either through associations or websites based in Dharamsala, India - where the Dalai Lama and his government in exile are now satying- or by the Chinese official press. Information is always very difficult to confirm.

The official news agency New China announced Wednesday, April 30, that police had killed an "insurgent" Tibetan independent in the province of Qingha´. A policeman, adds the dispatch, also died in the shootout during which "the suspect attempted to resist." This is the first time that the authorities admit that the police have killed someone, officially, the record is still 20 people killed by the "rioters Tibetan" since mid-March. According to sources in the Tibetan government in exile, the figure would be around 200 dead.

Carte du Tibet
Image Source: http://adream33.free.fr/carte_tibet2.jpg

The official Chinese press has also reported on Tuesday that 17 people arrested after the riot in Lhasa on March 14 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three years imprisonment to life imprisonment for their role during this event. Four hundred people were arrested in Lhasa, according to Chinese official sources. According to Tibetan sources in India, the number would be 2 000.


In April, in regions bordering Tibet, the police pressure was symptomatic of that will not allow any visitors or filter any information. "If you came as tourists, welcome! But you do not have the right to question the population", said two police officers in Deqin, a city with a Tibetan prefecture of the Yunnan province. "If you dbehave as a journalist, we will take against you the necessary measures", announced a policeman during a check at a roadblock. "We can not ensure your safety. You are in a Tibetan region, anything can happenů," said his colleague.

Since January 1st 2007, press correspondents accredited in Beijing have the official right to travel to China without prior authorization, as was the case previously, except in Tibet, where any foreigner must have a special permission.

Failing to meet journalists freely, some interlocutors agree to deliver information over the phone. According to one source contacted in the Batang County, in Sichuan, "a new education patriotic campaign has been launched in recent weeks: the police is entering monasteries to re-educate the monks. They force them to sing the anthem Chinese and hoist the national flag. Everyone is on a war footing. Officials will have no holidays for May 1st . " According to sources in Tibetan exile, like those from the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) or the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), incidents occur very frequently in all Tibetan areas. ICT says, Tuesday, a nun would have committed suicide in the town of Tashigang near Lhasa, after seeing protesters being violently hit by police. ICT adds that "mass arrests of monks continue" in the region.

For Beijing, this is also a way to discredit religious people and seculars, saying they are willing to use terrorist-type actions: according to New China, police has, in the monastery of Geerdeng, Sichuan, "seized thirty firearms and 4kg of explosives." Same thing near Xiahe, Kajiaman monastery, where the agency says that "seven people were found in possession of firearms, detonators, knives, bullets and 10 kg of explosives".



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