March 13, 2008

Help Them Reach Their Motherland

Tibetan protests ripple across mountain region
Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:24am EDT
By Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING (Reuters) - The biggest protests by Tibetan monks in nearly two decades have rippled into Chinese provinces populated by Tibetans, as the government's tough response draws condemnation from international groups.
The demonstrations over past days have followed marches around the world to mark the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Communist rule in the remote, mountainous region that has become a focus for protest ahead of this year's Beijing Olympics.
"The reports of protests outside Lhasa show that Tibetans know the eyes of the world are upon them and are determined not to let the momentum drop," Matt Whitticase of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign told Reuters.
On Monday, 500 monks from Drepung monastery defied authorities by staging a rare march in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, an act that the Chinese government called "an illegal activity that threatened social stability".
About 2,000 Chinese security personnel fired tear gas to try to disperse 600 monks from Sera monastery taking part in a second day of street protests in Lhasa, a source told Reuters.
They demanded the release of about a dozen fellow monks from Sera detained this month for waving a Tibetan flag and shouting pro-independence slogans, the source said.
[...] Another rights group said about 400 monks from Lutsang monastery in the northwestern province of Qinghai, known in Tibetan as Amdo, protested on Monday and shouted slogans for their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to return.
[...] On Wednesday, China closed the north face of Mount Everest to expeditions until after the Olympic torch ascends the peak in early May. Five Americans, including an ethnic Tibetan, unfurled "Free Tibet" banners on Everest -- known in China by its Tibetan name, Qomalangma -- last year.
"The march will continue and we are determined. Each one us. No one can stop us, we will reach our motherland," said Lobsang Yeshi, chief coordinator for the march.
Additional reporting by Chris Buckley in Beijing and Abhishek Madhukar in Dehra, India; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)

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