DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) – Tibet’s government-in-exile appealed to Beijing yesterday to end what it said was a Chinese crackdown on fresh protests in the troubled region.
A statement by Tibet’s exiled cabinet, the Kashag, said:
“The Kashag strongly deplore the recent arbitrary arrest, detention and torture (that has) taken place … for the slightest peaceful expression of their (Tibetans) aspirations or resentments.”
A rights group in Dharamsala, the seat of Tibet’s exiled government in northern India, said this week 21 Tibetans have been detained since a Feb 15 protest began in the Lithang region.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said hundreds of paramilitaries had arrived in Lithang after fresh protests and placed severe restrictions on the movement of people and streets looked deserted.
Chinese police last week said they “did not have any such information” on reports of arrests.
Next month marks the first anniversary of protests against Chinese rule in Lhasa and in Tibetan communities across the plateau, and the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a separatist.
A week of demonstrations in Lhasa erupted in violence in March last year when a Tibetan crowd burned shops belonging to Han Chinese and Hui Muslims, killing 19 people.
Some say the Chinese crackdown followed a boycott call by some Tibetans of the New Year’s celebrations in February to commemorate the March uprising and subsequent crackdown.
The Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala plans hunger strikes and protests to mark the New Year.
“The Kashag especially regrets the re-launching of the strike hard campaign (by Chinese), patriotic re-education and forcing Tibetans to celebrate Tibetan New Year,” the exiled Tibetan government’s statement said.
Thubten Samphel, Secretary of the government’s Department of Information and International Relations, told Reuters: “We feel it’s time for Chinese to exercise patience and restraint and not resort to an all out war towards Tibetan people.”
China’s Communist Party has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since People’s Liberation Army troops marched into the mountainous region in 1950 and brands the exiled Dalai Lama a “splittist.”