India distressed at violence in Lhasa, backs dialogue

March 15th, 2008 - 11:46 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi/Dharmasala (Himachal Pradesh), March 15 (IANS) In a delicate balancing act, India Saturday expressed “distress” at violence in Lhasa in the wake of the Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protesters and hoped the situation can be improved through dialogue. “We are distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa, and by the deaths of innocent people,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said in response to a question on developments in Tibet.

“We would hope that all those involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, through dialogue and non-violent means,” the spokesperson said.

The US, the European Union and other Western powers have called on China to exercise restraint after demonstrations by Tibetan activists in Lhasa turned violent Friday - the largest such protest in two decades.

The protests led by Buddhist monks that began Monday on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule took a violent turn barely a fortnight before China’s Olympic celebrations go into top gear with the launch of the torch relay, which passes through Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has been living in Dharamsala in India for decades after he fled Tibet in 1959, Friday appealed to China not to use force, saying he was “deeply concerned”.

“I appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence,” he said in a statement.

The Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamsala - not recognised by any nation - urged the UN to mediate into the violent crushing of protests in Tibet.

“The Tibetan parliament-in-exile strongly urges the UN to send a representative immediately to intervene and investigate the current human rights violations inside Tibet,” said a spokesman of the government-in-exile in Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh.

“The Tibetan parliament is deeply concerned by recent reports emanating from Tibet about random killings, injuries and arrests of thousands of peaceful demonstrating Tibetans against Chinese policies.

India’s circumspection on the protests has predictably come in for flak from Tibetan activists some of whom tried to storm the Chinese embassy here, but were thwarted by Indian policemen from doing so.

“India’s silence shows that it has buckled under pressure from China,” Tenzing Norsang, joint secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress, told IANS. He protested against what he called India’s “unfair use of force” to arrest participants of a protest march to Tibet.

Over 50 Tibetan activists were detained Saturday afternoon when they tried to storm the Chinese embassy in the capital’s diplomatic enclave - the third time in a week - to protest the crackdown in Lhasa.

“We are refugees, so we do have a right to return back. Also, we have registration certificates that show that we are foreigners in India,” said Norsang.

India has reiterated its stand on Tibetan protests saying it will not allow anti-China political activities from its soil. New Delhi made it clear that travelling across the international border without travel documents was illegal and therefore it was unreasonable to expect India to back such illegal activities.

“The Government of India has the responsibility to maintain public order. Any activity which causes disruption would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of India,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson had said here two days ago.

However, in defiance of the Indian government’s orders, a batch of 50 Tibetans continued their march Saturday after a two-day break.

The exiles marched from Dehra, 50 km from Dharamsala, and entered Una district by afternoon.

The police Thursday had stopped another march by Tibetans in Jwalamukhi town in Himachal Pradesh and had arrested 100 people.

India has assured Chinese leaders that despite granting exile to the Dalai Lama, it will not allow its soil to be used for anti-China activities.

No Indian minister or official attended a function held here to honour the Dalai Lama, who was conferred the Congressional Gold Medal, by the US last year.

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