Tibet's government-in-exile has said that at least 19 Tibetan protesters have been shot dead in China's Gansu province on Tuesday. They say the death toll from a week of unrest in the Chinese controlled region of Tibet has now reached 99. China has rejected the higher death tolls and has reiterated that it has not used lethal force to quell the protests. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the violence in the region.
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, during a press conference in Dharamsala
Refuting the Dalai Lama’s comment that Chinese authorities were committing "cultural genocide" in his homeland, Premier Wen Jiabao has put the blame on the Tibetan leader himself. Addressing a press conference at the end of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing, Wen Jiabao accused the Dalai Lama of inciting violence in Chinese controlled Tibet:
"We have plenty of evidence that proves that these incidents were organised, masterminded and incited by the Dalai Lama."
The Dalai Lama has denied the Chinese government’s charges and has urged both the Tibetans and the Chinese authorities to stop the violence. Speaking at a news conference in his home-in- exile Dharamshala, he said he would quit if violence continues in Tibet: "If things become out of control - violence - then what'll you do? Initially I told: If things become out of control, then my only option is to complete resign."
Protests against Chinese rule in Tibet turned violent in Lhasa on Friday when the police opened fire at protestors. The Tibetan government in exile claims that more than 90 people have died in the police firing.
Speaking with Deutsche Welle’s Hindi service, Samdhong Rinpoche, Tibet’s Prime Minister-in-exile has said the situation in Tibet is grim. He has also urged the UN to send its envoys to Tibet to monitor the situation:
“We urge the powerful nations and the UN to send their monitors to Tibet immediately to find out, what is going on there.” Rinpoche adds that organisations such as the Red Cross should also send their representatives ‘to provide medical aid to those, who are injured and secure the release of all Tibetan detainees’.
Tibetans to ruin Olympics: Wen
Beijing, however, has so far denied using any lethal force against the Tibetan protestors. It, in fact, accuses the rioters of killing at least 13 people and of tarnishing its image ahead of Olympics in August. Wen Jiabao again:
"They want to undermine the Beijing Olympic Games. We wish to hold the Games successfully. We want to tell you that the athletes and other visitors will be satisfied with the arrangements in Beijing.”
Scope for Dialogue
Earlier this week US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Beijing to open talks with the Dalai Lama. Premier Wen says China is willing to hold talks, but only after the Dalai Lama gives up his independence ambitions: “The doors of dialogue are still open to the Dalai Lama, so long as he gives up the position for "Tibet's Independence", so long as he recognises Tibet and Taiwan as inalienable parts of the Chinese territory.”
The Dalai Lama has rejected the claims that he is seeking independence. He has insisted that he is campaigning for greater autonomy within Chinese rule.
Meanwhile, protests by Tibetans living abroad have also started gaining momentum. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Headquarters of the International Olympic committee in Swiss city of Lausanne on Tuesday, denouncing the Chinese crackdown in Tibet. Hundreds of people also rallied outside the office of the European Union in Brussels, urging the bloc to send an investigation team to the region to verify facts.