Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tibetan Monks Protest Chinese Rule As Olympics Draw Near

By Heather Chin (March 13, 2008)

As hundreds of monks took to the streets, Chinese security forces surrounded three monasteries and reacted cautiously, likely since the Olympics approach.

Despite a near blackout on foreign media in and around the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, the International Herald Tribune reports that the largest protests in two decades have been occurring in Tibet against Chinese rule. According to advocacy groups and tourist video, the demonstrations have drawn Chinese security forces to the region, where they have surrounded three of the most famous monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism.

China’s Foreign Ministry confirms that protests broke out in Lhasa, but they provided no details and say the situation was caused by “a few monks” and that the situation is now stable.

The protests have arisen despite high security and harsh penalties, and news has trickled out via Tibetan advocacy groups, U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia, and videos posted on the Internet by tourists.

Groups of monks from each of the three main monasteries demonstrated separately from each other and had different demands, but all were peaceful and their actions timed to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising that failed and resulted in the Dalai Lama being forced to flee to neighboring India, where he still resides today.

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