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Tibet Monks Accuse China of Lying Over Protest to Foreign Reporters in a Stage-managed Tour

Posted by Author on March 28, 2008

By John Ruwitch, Reuters, Thu Mar 27, 2008-Tibetan monks

BEIJING (Reuters) – Tibetan monks stormed a news briefing at a temple in Lhasa on Thursday, accusing officials of lying about unrest and embarrassing Chinese authorities during a stage-managed tour by foreign reporters.

(photo from Reuters website)

Authorities say calm has been restored since an anti-Chinese uprising erupted in the Tibetan capital two weeks ago. China says its security forces acted with restraint and that 19 people died at the hands of Tibetan mobs during the unrest.

But the Tibetan government-in-exile says 140 died in Lhasa and elsewhere, most of them Tibetan victims of security forces, arousing international protest soon before the Beijing Olympics.

On Thursday young monks at the Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred in Tibet, stormed into a briefing by a temple administrator for a select group of foreign journalists, the first allowed into Tibet since the uprising.

“About 30 young monks burst into the official briefing, shouting: ‘Don’t believe them. They are tricking you. They are telling lies’,” USA Today’s Beijing-based reporter Callum MacLeod said by telephone from Lhasa.

Hong Kong’s TVB aired television footage of the bold outburst in front of the foreign journalists, showing monks in crimson robes, some weeping, crowded around cameras.

They said they had been barred from leaving the temple since March 10, when demonstrations erupted on the 49th anniversary of an abortive uprising against Chinese rule that saw Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, flee into exile in India.

“They just don’t believe us. They think we will come out and cause havoc — smash, destroy, rob, burn. We didn’t do anything like that — they’re falsely accusing us,” said one monk. “We want freedom. The have detained lamas and ordinary people.”

Wang Che-nan, a cameraman for Taiwan’s ETTV, said the incident lasted about 15 minutes, after which police took the monks elsewhere in the temple, away from the journalists.

They told the journalists: “your time is up, time to go to the next place”, Wang said.

Reuters was not invited on the government-organised trip …… (more details from Reuters: Lhasa monks accuse China of lying over unrest)

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