Tibetan Leader Asks World to Condemn Chinese Crackdown

Posted January 26th, 2012 at 9:40 am (UTC-5)
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The elected leader of the Tibet’s exile community is calling for a global vigil next month to condemn the killings of Tibetan protesters by security forces in China’s southwestern Sichuan province.

Lobsang Sangay called the killings this week of at least six protesters “gruesome” and “unacceptable.” In a statement issued Thursday from his headquarters in northern India, Mr. Sangay asked Tibet’s supporters around the world to send “a loud and clear” message of condemnation to the Beijing government on February 8. He also cited reports of injuries – some of them very serious – to about 60 others who participated in the Sichuan protests on Monday and Tuesday.

Sichuan province is home to many ethnic Tibetans. Mr. Sangay said it was under virtual police lockdown Thursday – security measures that he called undeclared martial law.

Western news agencies report a massive police presence in the region, and said entry was barred for reporters. The French news agency said police vehicles were stationed every 50 meters around the perimeter of the Tibetan quarter of Chengdu – a city of more than 5 million residents about 600 kilometers from the protest sites.

Witnesses say Tibetans in Sichuan who faced police Monday and Tuesday were protesting the earlier arrests of activists who tried to distribute pamphlets calling for an end to Chinese rule over Tibet. VOA’s Tibetan-language service said the pamphlets also warned of further self-immolation protests, as well as demands for the return of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Voice of Tibet radio said at least two protesters were killed Tuesday at a marketplace in Seda county, about 40 kilometers from the scene of a similar deadly confrontation Monday in Luhuo.

The violence drew another call from the U.S. State Department urging China to start a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and to address long-standing Tibetan grievances about widely perceived Chinese efforts to repress Tibetan culture and religious practices.

China seized control of Tibet more than 50 years ago, forcing the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders to flee to northern India. The exile government has operated since then in Dharamsala.