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Religious freedom group condemns China crackdown in Tibet


A US commission that monitors international religious freedom has condemned the Chinese government’s crackdown against those protesting in Tibet against Chinese rule.

"China continues to use the heavy hand of repression in Tibet, viewing Buddhism practised outside government control as a security threat requiring arrest, detentions, and ‘patriotic education’," said Michael Cromartie, chairperson of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The BBC reported China’s state media as saying that 10 people were killed on 14 March in clashes in Tibet’s main city, Lhasa, between protesters and security personal. It reported that the violence erupted on the fifth day of largely peaceful protests by Buddhist monks that began on 10 March, the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

The religious freedom commission urged the administration of US President George W. Bush to urge the Chinese government to permit the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists and de facto head of the exile Tibetan government in India, to visit his homeland.

"The Chinese government should cease its policy of brutally violating the rights of so many Buddhists in Tibet," said Cromartie, in his 14 March statement.  This came as the Dalai Lama called for an international investigation of the crackdown, and he said the Chinese government was committing "cultural genocide", ruling by "terror", the BBC reported.

At a 16 March news conference in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the exiled Tibetan government, the Dalai Lama told reporters he had no power to tell protesters to surrender to Chinese authorities as Beijing has demanded, the New York Times reported. He warned that more violence was likely and said he felt "helpless" to stop it.

The US religious freedom commission, based in Washington DC, is a body mandated to be independent by the US Congress to monitor abuse of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights throughout the world.

Ecumenical News International