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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China detains 24 Tibetans after new protests - group

February 18, 2009

Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:09am IST

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese forces have detained up to 24 Tibetans for
taking to the streets shouting support for exiled spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama, an overseas rights group said.

The protests were sparked by the arrest of a Tibetan who called for a
boycott of next week's Tibetan New Year celebrations.

The initial protest, by a man called Lobsang Lhundup, happened in
Lithang on Sunday, Free Tibet said in an emailed statement. Tibetans who
joined the protest the next day were beaten and detained, it said.

A police officer in Lithang said he "did not have any such information",
before hanging up the telephone. A police officer at the Ganze
prefectural office denied any knowledge of the incident.

On Monday, a meeting of senior police officers in the Ganze prefecture
called for maintaining stability and opposing separatism, and resolving
problems that lead to "mass incidents," a Chinese term that refers to
protests of all sizes. The meeting report did not specifically mention

Next month marks the first anniversary of protests against Chinese rule
in Lhasa and in Tibetan communities across the plateau, and the 50th
anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a

A week of demonstrations in Lhasa erupted in violence in March last year
when a Tibetan crowd burned shops belonging to Han Chinese and Hui
Muslims, killing 19 people.

Lithang, in the grasslands of western Sichuan province, is known for an
annual festival popular with nomadic horsemen. Unusually, several months
prior to the March events, a man spoke out at the 2007 festival and
called for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan groups have said.

Some Tibetans have urged a boycott of the New Year's celebrations this
year to commemorate the March uprising and subsequent crackdown. The
idea has met with a mixed reception, with some Tibetan families quietly
refraining from celebrations and others marking the holiday as usual.

It is "unclear" whether foreigners are currently allowed to travel to
Lithang, a hotel receptionist there said on Wednesday. Guesthouses
elsewhere in ethnically Tibetan areas of Sichuan are still open to
foreign travellers.

Ethnically Tibetan areas in southern Gansu province, where
demonstrations convulsed most towns last March, were closed to
foreigners shortly before the Chinese New Year celebration in January.
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