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Monks who spoke out won't be punished: China
Raghavendra in Beijing | March 28, 2008 12:44 IST
Amid fears of Chinese retribution against a group of daring monks who embarrassed authorities by pouring out a litany of complaints against Beijing [Images] in front of visiting foreign reporters in riot-scarred Lhasa, Beijing has assured that it would not punish them.
The young Buddhist monks had forced their way into the room where a foreign media contingent was being briefed by a senior official at the Jokhang Temple on Thursday and some of them told the journalists that the government was telling lies.
According to accounts given by foreign journalists present during the nearly 15-minute dramatic scene, the monks also said that they lacked religious freedom, were troubled by the troops and the government always told lies.
"What they (the monks) said is not true. They were attempting to mislead the world's opinion," Baema Chilain, vice-chairman of the regional government, told reporters on a three-day government organised trip in Lhasa.
"The monks who disrupted the tour are not to be punished," he was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.
"The facts should not be distorted," he told the journalists who were flown to Lhasa by the government, allowing the first access to foreign media, 12 days after the Tibetan capital was rocked by violence during the most vicious anti-Chinese protests in two decades.
However, the International Campaign for Tibet [Images] said that there are "serious fears for the welfare and whereabouts of the monks, whose peaceful protest shattered the authorities plans to convey an image that the situation in Lhasa was under control".
The violence in Tibet and elsewhere has left 20 people, including two police officers, dead and over 700 persons injured.
China has accused the Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan government in exile in India, of masterminding the unrest to sabotage the Beijing Olympics [Images], to be held in August. The Buddhist spiritual leader has vehemently denied the charge.
The 'Dalai clique', the Tibetan leader's supporters, had never stopped secessionist activities since the Dalai Lama [Images] went into exile in 1959, Gesang Yexe, a research fellow with the Tibetan Academy of Social Science, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
He said there were more than 1,700 temples in Tibet and "rightful religious activities are under the protection of the law."