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21 February 2024

World reacts cautiously on Tibet, but protests grow

By Agencies


The international community has reacted cautiously to the unrest in Tibet, urging restraint from both Beijing and Tibetans, even as street protests condemning China have grown in recent days.

Tibet's exiled leaders say about 100 people have been killed in a crackdown on anti-Chinese protests and have called for an international investigation. China has denied wrongdoing and blamed Tibetans for the unrest.

The United Nations has proved reluctant to get involved given China's considerable influence at the world body.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on the Chinese authorities to "avoid further confrontation and violence" in his first public comments since the crackdown.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday called on Beijing to open talks with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and the European Union said it was troubled by events there. But Russia said the Tibet crisis was an "internal matter" for China.

The muted international response is in contrast to growing street protests around the world against Beijing.

More than 100 demonstrators rallied outside the Chinese embassy in London on Monday as a deadline passed for protesters in Tibet to surrender or face heavy punishment.

In New York, 21 Tibetan activists were arrested outside the United Nations headquarters Monday on a third successive day of protests against Beijing's crackdown in their Himalayan homeland.

The 21 activists -- including two Buddhist monks, one of whom was in his 70s -- were detained on public order charges after laying down and blocking traffic on the main avenue passing the UN headquarters.

Authorities in Washington tightened security around the Chinese embassy after its front wall was splashed with red paint and its glass windows smashed.

In Nepal, at least 59 Tibetan exiles were detained after police used sticks and tear gas to break up protests outside a UN complex.

The Tibetans said they wanted to pressure the United Nations to investigate Beijing's crackdown on the fiercest uprising against Chinese rule of the Himalayan region in nearly two decades.

In Germany, staff were forced to barricade themselves inside the Chinese consulate in Munich on Monday as demonstrators set fire to a Chinese flag outside and tried to storm the building.

On Tuesday demonstrators in Australia burned Chinese flags and chanted "Free Tibet" as they protested outside Beijing's consulate.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called the Tibet violence "disturbing" and said Canberra had expressed its views to China on the crackdown.

Taiwan's ruling party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh attended a candle-light vigil Monday for Tibetans killed during the military crackdown.

India, where the Dalai Lama's exiled government has been based in the northern hill town of Dharamsala since a failed uprising in 1959, called for a "non-violent" solution to the troubles.

China refuses to hold negotiations with the Tibetan spiritual leader, whom they accuse of separatist activities.

Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday Beijing would only hold talks with the Dalai Lama if he gives up independence ambitions for his Himalayan homeland.

His comments came after the US on Monday said the refusal to engage with the exiled leader was a missed opportunity.

"We have really urged the Chinese over several years to find a way to talk with the Dalai Lama, who is a figure of authority, who is not a separatist, and to find a way to engage him and bring his moral weight to a more sustainable and better solution of the Tibet issue," Rice said. (AFP)