Wed, Apr 02, 2008 - Page 1 News List

China warns of threat of Tibetan `suicide squads'

COMMITTED As Beijing accuses, Tibetan leaders reaffirmed their commitment to nonviolence and the head of India's soccer team refused to carry the torch

AGENCIES , BEIJING, LONDON, NEW DELHI AND PARIS

China yesterday accused Tibetan independence forces of planning to use suicide squads to trigger bloody attacks.

The accusation was the latest in a series from Chinese officials blaming recent violence and unrest in Tibet on followers of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

"To our knowledge, the next plan of the Tibetan independence forces is to organize suicide squads to launch violent attacks," Public Security Bureau spokesman Wu Heping (吳和平) said yesterday. "They claimed that they fear neither bloodshed nor sacrifice."

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of orchestrating anti-government riots in Lhasa on March 14 as part of a campaign to sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August and promote Tibetan independence.

The 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner has denied the charge, condemning the violence and urging an independent international investigation into the unrest and its underlying causes.

The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile quickly denied Beijing's charges.

"Tibetan exiles are 100 percent committed to nonviolence. There is no question of suicide attacks. But we fear that Chinese might masquerade as Tibetans and plan such attacks to give bad publicity to Tibetans," said Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the government- in-exile in Dharmsala, India.

"There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that we want to follow the nonviolent path," he said.

China's campaign against the Dalai Lama has been underscored in recent days with showings of decades-old propaganda films on state TV portraying Tibetan society as cruel and primitive before the 1950 invasion by Chinese troops.

The government has sought to portray life as fast returning to normal in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa -- the scene of the deadliest violence -- although its landmark Buddhist monasteries of Jokhang, Drepung and Sera were closed and surrounded by troops, tour operators said.

`TROUBLE-MAKERS'

Meanwhile, China's top newspaper said yesterday that protesters seeking to upset the Olympics would only offend China's Games-loving citizens, as the Olympic torch began a global relay sure to trigger further demonstrations.

Even before the Olympic torch arrived in Beijing on Monday, it drew protests from critics of China's restrictions on dissidents and the media, its policies on Sudan's Darfur region, and a security crackdown in Tibet.

With the torch now on a 130-day trek across the world from the Chinese capital, more demonstrations abroad are certain.

But the People's Daily said "trouble-makers" had misjudged the country's mood.

"A few clouds will not cover the sun's radiance and a few trouble-makers will not hold back the world's expectations for the Beijing Olympic Games," the paper said.

"If some think that the warm-hearted aspirations and passionate expectations of the Chinese people present an opportunity to get up to some tricks and `pollute' the Beijing Olympics, they have made a big miscalculation," it said.

IOC MEETING

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge expected to meet senior Chinese government figures, possibly including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), in the next week as the Olympic movement attempts to ease international tensions surrounding the Games.

Rogge is expected to arrive in Beijing at the end of this week as the IOC makes its last formal visit to the city before the Games and it is hoped he will meet Wen.

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