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Dalai Lama is a wolf in monk's robes: China
March 19, 2008 18:57 IST
Unmindful of global protests and calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama [Images], China on Wednesday dubbed him a "wolf in monk's robes" and admitted that it was locked in a "life-and-death battle" in Tibet after the strongest challenge to Beijing's [Images] rule there in two decades.
Initially led by monks, the demonstrations began peacefully on March 10, the anniversary of a failed uprising in 1959 against the Chinese rule, and then spiraled out of control in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, claiming at least 13 lives and injuring many.
The Tibet regional government has claimed that 105 protesters had surrendered to police yesterday. Authorities had threatened to punish harshly protesters who failed to surrender by a Monday night deadline. Lhasa police are apparently conducting house-to-house searches and making arrests.
The Tibetan government in exile in Dharamshala says 99 people have so far died in clashes with security forces, including 80 in Lhasa. But China says only 13 were killed. China has banned the entry of foreign journalists into Lhasa and the flow of information is tightly controlled, making it difficult to verify either of these claims.
Rattled by the massive scale protests and international reaction, Tibet's Communist Party secretary Zhang Qingli has warned of a "long-term" struggle against the Tibetan exile movement, labelling the Dalai Lama a "wolf in monk's robes".
"We are in the midst of a fierce struggle involving blood and fire, a life and death struggle with the Dalai clique," he told a meeting of local leaders.
The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dalai Lama, has strongly rejected Beijing's repeated claims of "masterminding" the anti-China violence in Tibet and called for calm.
Lhasa was reportedly calm after authorities rushed in troops to maintain order.
The massive protests, which Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating, sparked a crackdown by Chinese forces and focused international attention on the country's human rights record ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Western nations led by the United States have repeatedly urged China to address Tibetans' grievances and engage in direct talks with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said China has virtually sealed off Tibet by expelling or turning away foreign tourists and journalists and demanded access to independent monitors to the people detained to give "confidence to the world" that they were not being tortured or mistreated.
"Given the long and well-documented history of torture of political activists by China's security forces there is every reason to fear for the safety of those recently detained," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
Some foreign journalists based in China have claimed that they have been obstructed by authorities at least 30 times as they sought to cover unrest in Tibet and nearby provinces in recent days.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said journalists had experienced interference in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu and Xining, as well as in Lhasa.
Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders slammed China yesterday for what it called steps taken by Beijing to prevent media coverage of demonstrations and an ongoing crackdown in Tibet.