Beijing continues arrests and sentencings, Tibetans seek new means of struggle
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China continues handing out sentences in closed-door trials, together with arrests and restrictions against the Tibetans; meanwhile, hundreds of Tibetan leaders in exile have decided to meet from November 17-22 in northern India. They intend to discuss a new approach to China, and many are critical toward the Dalai Lama as well, after his approach of nonviolent protest has produced no results. They do not contest his spiritual leadership, but they propose identifying a new political leader.
Baema Cewang, vice president of the Chinese government in Tibet, has revealed that 55 Tibetans have so far been sentenced over the protests last March in Lhasa. According to Cewang, the police arrested 1,317 people at the time, of whom 1,115 have been released, and the others put on trial. There is no word on the charges, proposed punishments, or fate of 147 more who have not yet been sentenced. This is the first official admission since last April, when sentences of three years in the labor camps were announced for 30 people charged over the March protests, followed by 14 more people in October. In recent months, pro-Tibet groups have announced more sentences, which have not been confirmed by Beijing.
On March 10 in Tibet, the police and army confronted the monks who were peacefully demonstrating to commemorate the victims of Chinese repression in 1959. In the following days in Lhasa, thousands of people took to the streets, and there were clashes with the army, which conducted a bloody crackdown on the protests, with dozens dead and thousands arrested. According to Tibetan groups in exile, more than 1,000 Tibetans are still in jail, and the whereabouts of many of these are unknown. Beijing has always spoken of about 20 deaths, including many ethnic Han Chinese.
These events raised protests all over the world, especially on the occasion of the journey of the Olympic torch. These worldwide protests "forced" Beijing to open talks with a representative of the Dalai Lama. In recent days, the Dalai Lama has described these talks as "a failure," claiming that Beijing does not intend to discuss any concession of greater autonomy for the region, but is carrying out "increasing repression" against the monks and anyone who opposes the government.
Yesterday, the monk Jigme (in the photo) was arrested, who in recent months had spread the news on the police violence in March and afterward. More than 70 policemen surrounded and then burst into the monastery of Labrang, where the "dangerous criminal" was. The charge against him is unknown.
Last August, in a video posted on YouTube, Jigme described how he was taken away by the police without cause, detained for two months without charges, subjected to continual interrogation and abuse, beaten until he was unconscious, and hospitalized two times. After this he went into hiding, constantly moving around the boundless high plains of Tibet. According to acquaintances, he decided to return to the monastery after the police visited his family and assured them that he would not be arrested if he stayed in the monastery. With winter approaching winter, Jigme decided to trust the Chinese authorities.