Friday, January 30, 2009

Tibetans urged to cancel New Year festivities over latest Chinese crackdown

Ethnic Tibetans are being urged not to celebrate the Chinese New Year, in protest at a renewed crackdown by Chinese officials in the regional capital, Lhasa.
In the past 11 days, 81 people have been detained and nearly 6,000 have been called in for questioning by police. Now, in a campaign spearheaded by the Tibetan Youth Congress labelling 2009 "a black year", Tibetans have been encouraged not to take part in next month's Lunar New Year festivities.
"The TYC calls upon China to end the illegal occupation of Tibet and to immediately release all Tibetan political prisoners currently languishing in Chinese gulags," said Tsewang Rigzin, spokesman for the Tibetan Youth Congress, at a press conference.
The Tibetan New Year starts with the new moon in late February, exactly one month after the start of the Chinese New Year of the Ox, which began on Monday.But the date has been picked by the Tibetan Youth Congress as a timely moment to protest continued Chinese rule over the province.
"As the year 2009 also marks 60 years since China's invasion and 50 years since China's occupation of Tibet, TYC delcares the year of 2009 as a black year and shall organise campaigns."
Australia Network's Ian Burrow's reports that the campaigns has already begun, with a series of hunger strikes and the burning of effigies of Chinese leaders in the streets of Lhasa.The Tibetan government in exile has also appealed to the international community to intervene in the latest Chinese crackdown.

Germany urges talks
The call came as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made his first visit to Europe since cancelling a visit to the region late last year, in anger at meetings between the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr Wen was urged during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkl in Berlin to hold talks with the Dalai Lama."From the German side, I once again underlined that we have an intense interest in the talks with the representatives of the Dalai Lama gaining momentum again," Ms Merkl told reporters after the meeting on Thursday."And I offered our help, if Germany can make a constructive contribution, we are ready to do so."

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