View Full Version : China claims Tibetans planning ‘suicide squads’

01-04-08, 15:33
China claims Tibetans planning ‘suicide squads’
Government-in-exile rejects charge, says Tibetans pledged to nonviolence

updated 4:34 a.m. PT, Tues., April. 1, 2008

BEIJING - China on Tuesday accused “Tibet independence forces” of planning to use suicide squads to trigger bloody attacks — the latest in a string of accusations that have taken aim at supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile denied the claims, saying Tibetans are committed to a “nonviolent path.”

“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 said Tuesday.

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“They claimed that they fear neither bloodshed nor sacrifice,” Wu told a news conference.

Wu offered no firm evidence to support his claims.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of orchestrating anti-government riots in Lhasa last month as part of a campaign to sabotage the August Beijing Olympics 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.

'We want to follow the nonviolent path'
Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche of Tibet’s exiled government reiterated that position Tuesday.

“There is no question of suicide attacks,” said Rinpoche. “There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that we want to follow the nonviolent path.”

Rinpoche said the Tibetan exile community fears the Chinese might “masquerade as Tibetans” and plan attacks to discredit the activists.

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

Peaceful protests turn violent
Monks from the three temples backed peaceful protests that broke out March 10 on the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. The protests turned violent four days later and spread across a wide area of western China inhabited by Tibetans.

Beijing claims Tibet has been Chinese territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for much of that time.

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China has ignored international calls for mediation and refuses to discuss accusations of discrimination, repression and economic disenfranchisement raised by the Dalai Lama and overseas supporters — as well as complaints over alleged shooting and other excesses in the ensuing crackdown.

Chinese state media has focused overwhelmingly on the victims of the violence in Tibet, releasing the names of 14 of the 18 civilians and one police officer it says were killed in the Lhasa riots. All but one were migrants from other parts of China, among the many who have flooded into the region in recent decades.

Xinhua has reported 12 were killed in arson attacks. The causes of death in two other cases were undetermined, and four bodies had yet to be identified.

Authorities earlier said three other people presumably jumped from windows to escape police.

Tibetan exiles say the toll from the violence plus the harsh crackdown afterward was much higher, leaving nearly 140 people dead.

A total of 414 suspects were in custody in connection with the March 14 riots, and another 298 people had voluntarily surrendered, state media quoted officials as saying.


NY Times
01-04-08, 17:13
April 1, 2008
China Alleges Tibetan 'Suicide Squads'

Filed at 2:44 p.m. ET


BEIJING (AP) -- China has branded the Dalai Lama a ''wolf in monk's robes'' and his followers the ''scum of Buddhism.'' It stepped up the rhetoric Tuesday, accusing the Nobel Peace laureate and his supporters of planning suicide attacks.

The Tibetan government-in-exile swiftly denied the charge, and the Bush administration rushed to the Tibetan Buddhist leader's defense, calling him ''a man of peace.''

''There is absolutely no indication that he wants to do anything other than have a dialogue with China on how to discuss the serious issues there,'' State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

Wu Heping, spokesman for China's Ministry of Public Security, claimed searches of monasteries in the Tibetan capital had turned up a large cache of weapons. They included 176 guns, 13,013 bullets, 7,725 pounds of explosives, 19,000 sticks of dynamite and 350 knives, he said.

''To our knowledge, the next plan of the Tibetan independence forces is to organize suicide squads to launch violent attacks,'' Wu told a news conference. ''They claimed that they fear neither bloodshed nor sacrifice.''

Wu provided no details or evidence. He used the term ''gan si dui,'' a rarely used phrase directly translated as ''dare-to-die corps.'' The official English version of his remarks translated the term as ''suicide squads.''

Wu said police had arrested an individual who he claimed was an operative of the ''Dalai Lama clique,'' responsible for gathering intelligence and distributing pamphlets calling for an uprising.

The suspect admitted to using code words to communicate with his contacts, including ''uncle'' for the Dalai Lama and ''skirts'' for the banned Tibetan snow lion flag, Wu said.

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of orchestrating violence in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. Protests which began peacefully there on the March 10 anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule spiraled out of control four days later.

Chinese officials have put the death toll at 22, most of them Han Chinese; the government-in-exile says 140 Tibetans were killed.

China also says sympathy protests that spread to surrounding provinces are part of a campaign by the Dalai Lama to sabotage the Beijing Olympics and promote Tibetan independence.

The 72-year-old Dalai Lama has condemned the violence and denied any links to it, urging an independent international inquiry into the unrest.

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

Experts on terrorism and security risks facing Beijing and the Olympics have not cited any Tibet group as a threat.

Scholars said the claim of suicide squads was a calculated move by China allowing it to step up its crackdown in Tibetan areas.

''There is no evidence of support for any kind of violence against China or Chinese,'' said Dibyesh Anand, a Tibet expert at Westminster University in London.

Instead, Beijing is ''portraying to the rest of China and the rest of the world: these people are basically irrational'' and that there was no room for compromise, he said.

Tuesday's accusations could also further divide the Tibetan government-in-exile and other groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress, which has challenged the Dalai Lama's policy of nonviolence, Anand said.

''This is a way of pressuring the Dalai Lama to renounce Tibetans who have created violence,'' he said.

Andrew Fischer, a fellow at the London School of Economics who researches Chinese development policies in Tibetan areas of China, dismissed Wu's warnings as ''completely ridiculous.''

What China is trying to do ''is justify this massive troop deployment, a massive crackdown on Tibetan areas and they're trying to justify intensification of hard-line policies,'' Fischer said.

Drawing from a deep historical reserve of angry rhetoric, Tibet's tough-talking Chinese Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, recently called the Dalai Lama a ''wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face, but the heart of a beast'' and deemed the current conflict a ''life-and-death battle.'' State media has denounced protesting monks as the ''scum of Buddhism.''

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

The escalation of the rhetoric to include claims of possible suicide attacks may also touch upon another sensitive issue for China's communist leadership -- unrest in Xinjiang, a predominantly Muslim region to Tibet's north, and Beijing's tight security measures in the area.

Last month, state media reported that a woman had confessed to attempting to hijack and crash a Chinese passenger plane from Xinjiang in what officials say was part of a terror campaign by a radical Islamic independence group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. The reports said the woman was from China's Turkic Muslim Uighur minority.

While the United States has labeled the East Turkestan Islamic Movement a terrorist organization, the State Department alleges widespread abuses of the legal and educational systems by the communist authorities to suppress Uighur culture and religion.

Fischer said China has tried to change the ''nonviolent, compassionate'' image of Tibetans into one of violence and brutality to draw parallels to the pro-independence stance in Xinjiang.

''If they succeed in portraying them that way, then they can treat them the same way they treat Muslims in Xinjiang,'' he said.


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press