China Reportedly Detains Hundreds of Tibetans Who Had Gone to India

Buddhist devotees listen to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, unseen, as he addresses Tibetan devotees during the Kalachakra Buddhist festival in the town of Bodh Gaya, believed to be the place where Buddha attained enlightenment, Bihar, India,

Human rights groups say China has detained several hundred Tibetans who returned from India after attending teaching sessions with the Dalai Lama. Chinese authorities are insisting that overseas forces are inciting violent separatist acts in Tibet.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin repeated accusations that people and organizations outside of China are stoking violent and extremist acts like self-immolation inside Tibet.

He says these activities sabotage social stability in Tibetan areas of China, pressure the Chinese government and incite separatism and Tibetan independence.

His comments Friday come as the New York-based group Human Rights Watch issued a report alleging that Chinese authorities have detained hundreds of ordinary Tibetans who had returned to China from India. The report says the detained Tibetans had taken part in a religious teaching session given by the Dalai Lama last month.

Tempa Tsering, the Dalai Lama's representative in New Delhi, denies that the session the Chinese Tibetans attended was geared toward violence.


“It was a religious teaching that the Dalai Lama gave, and it was attended by 250,000 people from 66 countries around the world.”

Tibetans inside China have increasingly tried to draw attention to their objections to Chinese policies by committing suicide through setting themselves on fire. There have been more than 20 reported cases of Tibetan self-immolation in the past year.

China calls these acts terrorism, but the Dalai Lama's representative points out that those who commit them are driven to it because of they can no longer bear living under Chinese rule. He accuses China of using separatism as an excuse to crack down even harder on Tibetan culture and religion.

“The Tibetan people are sacrificing themselves, without hurting even a Chinese soul and without any kind of hatred.”

When asked about the specific report of the Tibetan detentions, the Chinese spokesman said only that he is not aware of it. At the same time, he acknowledged that local security authorities in Tibetan areas have made what he described as “special arrangements,” in light of unspecified local realities, to ensure security and safety. 

There has been a recent increase in anti-China protests in Tibetan areas of China. March is an especially sensitive month because it is the anniversary of the Dalai Lama's 1959 flight into exile to India. More recently, it is the anniversary of bloody riots in Lhasa, Tibet's capital, in 2008.

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