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Tibetan Exile Officials Warn Chinese Violence Against Protesters “Unsustainable”

  • Kurt Achin

Chinese official media are accusing elected Tibetan-exile and Western officials of distorting recent violent episodes in Tibetan areas under Beijing's control. But the India-hosted administration that claims to speak for all Tibetans says the protests may increase if Beijing favors using bullets rather than dialogue for its regional security.

The official newspaper China Daily blames Tibetan exiles and unnamed Western governments for pursuing an “agenda against China” in their descriptions of recent unrest in Tibetan areas under Chinese control.

Tibetan exile officials, hosted in the northern Indian city, Dharamsala, say China shot to death at least six peaceful protesters last week in areas it controls. China admits to killing one protester, whom Beijing describes as a rioter. Officials describe the recent protests as “mobs” who have used violence against Chinese police.

Spokeswoman and Cabinet minister for the Tibetan administration in exile Dekyi Chhoyang dismisses suggestions in Chinese media that Tibetan exile officials are colluding with Western governments and media to distort events.

“Absolutely not, absolutely not. The unrest that we are seeing now in the Tibetan region, it is really a reaction by the Tibetan people to the repressive policies of the Chinese government. And, what we are saying to them [China] is listen to the people.”

At least 16 Tibetans, mainly Buddhist monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire to protest what they view as repressive policies in the region.

The Tibetan-exile administration says it has never encouraged its fellow Tibetans under Chinese control to protest, but is sensitive to their concerns. Many are concerned of a repeat of widespread that riots broke out in China's Tibetan autonomous region in 2008.

Cabinet Minister Chhoyang says there is a definite risk of escalation, if the Chinese do not listen to Tibetan concerns.

“It is bound to resurface ... it is only going to increase, I think. We are facing a younger generation who are more vocal, who are willing to make their grievances known.”

China occupied Tibet in 1950. Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, crossed into India in 1959 along with tens of thousands of supporters. Chhoyang says many of the current protesters have no personal memories of those historical episodes.

“A lot of the people who have protested are in their 40s and younger, Tibetans who were born and grew up after China occupied the Tibetan plateau. So, they have never known an independent Tibet. They grew up under the Chinese regime. So there is something seriously wrong that we need to listen to.”
No foreigners are being allowed into Tibetan areas under Chinese control. Tibet's exile Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay has called for the United Nations to send a fact-finding team to the region.

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