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Tibetan Monks Defy Beijing, Protest During Visit by Foreign Journalists

By Daniel Schearf
27 March 2008

A group of Tibetan monks has defied Beijing by protesting during a government-controlled visit by foreign journalists to Tibet. A group of about 30 monks interrupted an official briefing in the Tibetan capital Thursday to accuse the Chinese government of lying about recent unrest. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The monks burst into a government briefing being held inside Lhasa's Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred in Tibet.

The young monks told foreign journalists on a government-controlled tour that Beijing is lying about who was responsible for deadly violence that broke out earlier this month.

The monks, dressed in traditional gold robes, were distraught. They wept as they told the journalists China's government has been lying.

This monk says Chinese officials have accused them of widespread destruction they were not responsible for. He says they are being treated unjustly and locked inside the temple.

The monks denied Beijing's claims that the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, orchestrated the rioting and violence in Tibetan areas.

After some minutes, Chinese security arrived and took the protesting monks away.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday he had no information on the protest. He said he could not confirm whether monks are being locked up in monasteries.

Qin says the tour for foreign journalists was arranged so the outside world would have an objective understanding of recent incidents in Tibet.

On March 10, Tibetan monks launched peaceful protests in Lhasa to mark the anniversary of the Dalai Lama's failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Ordinary Tibetans joined them but the protests turned violent a few days later. The protests and clashes spread to neighboring provinces.

China's government says rioting Tibetans killed at least 20 people and injured hundreds of others. Shops, buildings, and vehicles were also torched and destroyed.

Exiled Tibetan groups say dozens more Tibetans were killed. They say Chinese security forces shot and killed peaceful protesters. Beijing denies that police used lethal force.

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