03/25/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
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Intellectuals and dissidents ask China to reconsider the "errors" committed in Tibet

Writers, activists, lawyers, artists press Beijing to open a direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and demand full religious freedom for Tibet. The official propaganda - as crude as that of the Cultural Revolution - incites racial hatred.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Opening a dialogue with the Dalai Lama; free access in Tibet for foreign media and for a UN commission; ending the violent rhetoric in the style of the "Cultural Revolution": this is some of the advice that a group of 29 Chinese intellectuals has sent to the Chinese government, to calm the situation in Tibet.

The "12 counsels" are contained in an open letter released on Saturday, March 22, on many international websites. The letter is signed by important activists, like Liu Xiaobo and Ding Zilin, of the group Mothers of Tiananmen (in the photo), writers like Wang Lixiong, an expert on Tibetan culture, lawyers, journalists, and artists.

The letter is an important sign of criticism of the government propaganda that is trying to use the mantle of patriotism to unite the Chinese people over the violence in Tibet. According to the intellectuals, "Propaganda released by official media has the effect of fanning racial hatred and intensifying the situation, which is already very tense". In recent days, Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of planning the Tibetan revolts as part of a plot against the Olympics.  The secretary of the communist party in Tibet has described the Buddhist spiritual leader as "a jackal disguised as a Buddhist monk, a malevolent spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast".

The signatories note that the Tibetan revolts, unlike those of the 1980's, have involved various strata of society - not only monks - and various areas of China.  This shows that Beijing has made "serious errors in its actions toward Tibet".

Noting the attitude of mistrust toward China on the part of the international community, the 29 ask the government to invite a UN commission for human rights to investigate the unfolding of the incidents and the number of the victims.

Demanding an end to the violence on the part of the authorities, and to the provocations on the part of the Tibetan population, the signatories urge the Chinese government to allow national and international media to visit Tibet, to implement full freedom of religion and expression in the region, and not to use vengeance and violence toward arrestees and suspects.

Finally, the group of intellectuals asks Beijing to open a direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Another figure among the dissidents, Bao Tong, the former secretary of Zhao Ziyang, tells Reuters that the appeal of the 29 has emphasised that the Dalai Lama is not the source of the Tibetan problem, but the only element that can help to find a solution.  He is "the only Tibetan leader with the hope of presiding over a reconciliation agreement between Tibetans and Han Chinese".

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