07/07/2009, 00.00
CHINA – TIBET

Uyghurs and Tibetans are experiencing the same repression, Tibetan leader says

Nirmala Carvalho
Police violence in Urumqi is similar to that in Lhasa in March 2008. Beijing should draw some lessons from the Xinjiang riots, namely find a solution to the Tibetan question with the Dalai Lama. Tibet’s spiritual leader has urged his countrymen and women to use non-violence, but once he is dead Tibetan frustrations could turn into an uprising.

Daramshala (AsiaNews) – “The policy of the Chinese government towards the Uyghurs is very similar to that towards the Tibetan people. Uyghurs and Tibetans suffer the same Chinese occupation; both of us are repressed and dominated and have to endure humiliations,” said Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) as he spoke to AsiaNews about China’s crackdown against protests in Urumqi and other Xinjiang cities.

“However unlike the Uighur people, the people of Tibet have the spiritual and moral guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who repeatedly emphasises and insists that all Tibetans follow the non-violent path for the resolution of the Tibetan issue.”

Current events in Xinjiang are very similar to what happened last year in Tibet. Demonstrations in Lhasa and other Tibetan regions turned into an uprising and violence against the Chinese military and ethnic Han Chinese.  Beijing in turn accused Tibetans of terrorism and of trying to disrupt the 2008 Olympics with violence.

The accusation of violence “is official Chinese propaganda. In March 2008 there was a global protest. Inspired by the Mahatma Gandhi and on the advice of the Dalai Lama it was supposed to be non-violent. Unfortunately, China’s propaganda machine created the impression that the protest was just violent. In fact, incidents that occurred after 14 March, when some Chinese-owned stores were set on fire and some ethnic Han Chinese were killed, were due to severe provocation. Chinese propaganda chose to show Tibetans’ ‘violence’, but the world was able to see that Tibetan demonstrations were non-violent.”

According to Tenzin, China should draw some lessons from the demonstrations and violence in Urumqi.

“The frustrations of Tibetans are mounting; we are getting increasingly tired with Chinese insincerity in solving the Tibetan issue,” Tenzin said.

“Beijing should try to negotiate with the Dalai Lama and find a solution whilst he is still alive. None of us can predict what will happen after his death. So far he has preached and called for non-violence, but we do not know what will eventually happen. . . .”

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