01/28/2009, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
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Tibetan young man dies from injuries suffered in jail

Pema Tsepak was arrested for calling for a free Tibet, and then hospitalized with internal injuries. Meanwhile, police arrest 81 Tibetans for possessing "reactionary music." Refugees in exile: the authorities want to prevent protests for the March anniversaries.

Lhasa (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The police have arrested at least 81 people in Tibet, accused of acting against security in the region. Two of them had recorded "reactionary music" on their cell phones. Meanwhile, Tibetans are denouncing that on January 23, Pema Tsepak died from injuries he "sustained" while he was under arrest.

On January 20, Pema (in the photo), together with Thinley Ngodrub and his brother Thargyal, in the county of Dzogang, prefecture of Chamdo, carried a banner reading "independence for Tibet," distributed fliers, and chanted slogans. The police arrested them. Pema was then hospitalized with severe injuries to his intestines and kidneys, and died in the local hospital.

On January 24, 51 people were arrested for unspecified crimes; on the 25th another 30 were arrested for robbery, prostitution, and theft. At least two of them have been accused of possessing "reactionary music," which in general are songs praising the Dalai Lama.

Since January 18, the police in Lhasa have been carrying out a "crackdown against crime," raiding homes, hotels, rented rooms, internet cafés and bars, "checking" about 6,000 people, according to state media.

The group International Campaign for Tibet denounces that this operation "appears to be intended to intimidate Tibetans still further," in order to prevent possible protests and commemorations of the Chinese repressions on March 10, 1959 (when the Dalai Lama was forced into exile) and on March 14, 2008, when the armed forces violently cut off the protests of the Tibetans. For Beijing, it is "normal" to arrest people believed to be subversive before major events, in order to prevent public protests.

In December, there were 59 "official" arrests of people accused of making subversive statements and downloading reactionary music.

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