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Sarkozy threatens boycott amid fresh riots in Tibet
April 06, 2008 15:54 IST
Pressure mounted on China to open talks with the Dalai Lama with French President Nicholas Sarkozy on Saturday becoming the first western leader to bluntly threaten it with a boycott of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony amid another bloody flare up in Tibet.
At least eight people have been killed in fresh riots in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garze in southwest China's Sichuan province, rights groups claimed. But state media said police had fired 'warning shots' after they were attacked by mobs and one government official was seriously injured.
Sarkozy will only attend the opening ceremony if China opens dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and frees political prisoners, French secretary of state for human rights Rama Yade was quoted as saying by the Le Monde newspaper.
The United States, European Union and Australia have been piling pressure on China to immediately open dialogue with the Dalai Lama and though Tibetans have been pressing for a boycott of the Olympics, no world leader had till now openly suggested such a move.
A defiant Beijing has warned countries against interfering in its internal affairs and accused the Dalai Lama of sabotaging the Beijing Olmpics slated to begin on August 8, a charge denied by the monk.
Unable to quell the violent protests by Tibetans despite a massive security clampdown, China has vowed to 'reinforce patriotic education' in the restive region which Tibetan groups say only implied denouncing the Dalai Lama.
China has charged the Dalai Lama with masterminding the most vicious monks-led anti-government demonstrations in two decades that erupted in Lhasa on March 14 and spread to Sichuan and Gansu provinces, leaving 20 people and over 700 injured and prompted a massive crackdown on Tibetans.
The state media has reported the arrest of nearly 1,000 people so far for their alleged involvement in the riots that have cast a shadow on Beijing Olympics and China has vowed their swift trial.
Authorities in Lhasa, meanwhile, issued arrest warrants for 16 people allegedly involved in a riot in Dagze county on March 15.
The US-based International Campaign for Tibet claimed eight people were killed in fresh violence on Thursday while US government-funded Radio Free Asia said 15 people were killed and dozens injured in the violence.
The police had fired 'warning shots' after they were attacked by mobs, official Xinhua news agency said, while the Tibetan groups claimed they targeted crowd of locals and monks protesting the detention of two monks by security personnel.
A Tibet Communist Party official has told a group of monks to guide others to continue to "foster the tradition of love or religion, love of the country and to hold high the banner of patriotic progress," the Tibet Daily said.
The Party deputy chief Hao Peng said education should be 'reinforced', particularly among young monks about the legal system "so that they become patriots who love religion and observe discipline and law".
Despite fresh tension, a top Communist party official of Tibet vowed to make the Olympics torch relay through the Himalayan region successful.
"Tibet from top to bottom must keep a clear head at all times," party Secretary Zhang Qingli, known for his tough approach, said in a speech published in the Tibet Daily.
"Create a healthy social atmosphere of harmony and stability for the Beijing Olympic Games torch relay in the Tibet Autonomous Region," he said.
Complete Coverage: Unrest in Tibet