Beijing campus says Tibetans staged sit-in

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am

The vice-president of the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing confirmed yesterday that some Tibetan students there staged a sit-in on March 17 - three days after rioting broke out in Lhasa.

But Serab Nyima insisted the students at the school in northwest Beijing were just praying for peace for their families and the region after feeling worried about the unrest.

'Those students were very reasonable and returned to their dormitories by midnight after talks with teachers,' he said at a press conference organised by the State Council Information Office.

Beijing has repeatedly accused what it terms 'the Dalai Lama clique' of instigating the riots, which spread to other Tibetan regions on the mainland, an accusation that has been strongly denied by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Joining the attacks on the Dalai Lama, the scholars rejected suggestions that the riots had underlined conflicts between Han Chinese and the Tibetans as a result of Beijing's policy of encouraging large numbers of Han Chinese to settle in Tibet. They said the claim was politically motivated.

Professor Nyima also criticised the Dalai Lama for calling for the autonomy of 'greater Tibet', which encompasses four other Tibetaninhabited provinces - Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai - and the Tibet Autonomous Region .

While saying such a term had never existed in Chinese history, he said the 'Dalai clique' was likely to instigate hatred in the region by making such a claim and it had also resorted to 'bloodshed activities' to seek Tibetan independence this year because of the Olympics.

Hu Yan, a professor of Tibetan studies at the Central Party School in Beijing, called for the stepping up of legal and patriotic education in monasteries in view of the rioting and the influence the Dalai Lama still exerted on the few large monasteries in Tibet.

'Of course, there are only some of them who insist on being unpatriotic, not all of them.

'But this reminds us of the need to attach importance to the education of young Tibetan monks,' Professor Hu said, stressing that religious activities must be considered under the framework of the law.

He also said monks should study Tibetan history, such as its 'peaceful liberation and suppression of rebellions' - apparently referring to Tibet's failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, which led to the Dalai Lama's flight into exile in India.

The apparent stepping-up of rhetoric against the Dalai Lama by Beijing, which on Tuesday claimed the next plan of the 'clique' was to organise suicide squads to launch violent attacks, met strong criticism from the spiritual leader and his officials.

His spokesman, Chhime Chhoekyapa, said official state press and other mainland media had told Chinese people only one side of the story. 'What we would like to see is impartial international bodies going to Tibet to investigate who is behind the riots,' he said.