Torch relay to Tibet, Everest to go ahead

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 March, 2008, 12:00am


Related topics

The Olympic torch relay through Tibet and to Mount Everest will not change despite recent unrest and activists' plan to sabotage the event, according to senior Tibetan officials.

Pelma Chiley, vice-chairman of the Tibetan government, said at the first overseas media tour in Tibet since the riots: 'We have obtained information that the separatist forces inside and outside China are working in collusion to sabotage the torch relay and the activities to bring the torch to the peak of Mount Everest.

'We are fully prepared and we have the resolution, confidence and capability to complete the torch relay and bring the torch to the peak.'

Mr Pelma said one of the rioters' major aims was to jeopardise the Games, but did not elaborate on what measures the government would take to ensure a smooth passage of the flame through Tibet. The Tibetan leg of the torch relay was originally planned for May.

When challenged to present evidence proving the Dalai Lama was behind the riots on March 14, he said: 'We have ample evidence. We are still collecting more evidence ... and we will tell the world in due time.'

The government has detained 414 suspects and charged 30 of them. It has also issued a wanted list of 53 people.

Mr Pelma claimed only three rioters were killed during the arrests, including one who jumped to his death when he tried to escape from a window.

Officials have put the death toll of 'innocent people' at 18, including a paramilitary officer, but have not revealed how many rioters died.

Mr Pelma denied the army had been called in to quell the unrest. He claimed that photographs showing PLA troops in Tibetan streets were taken after the riots, as soldiers helped with street cleaning.

'I have not seen any tanks or armoured vehicles. But I have seen some photos ... We have organised civil servants and the public to clean up the streets ... [The photos] were misinterpretations.'

Lhasa Mayor Dorji Tsedrup said the government would allow foreign tour groups into Tibet soon but would not say when.