Tibet religious leaders condemn Lhasa riots

Updated: 2008-03-17 06:35

LHASA - Religious leaders in the Tibet autonomous region and local government officials condemned Friday's riots that damaged religious peace and order in Lhasa.

The 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu said the sabotage acts run counter to tenets of Buddhism.

"The rioters not only harmed the interests of the nation and the people, but also violated the spirit of Buddhism," the Panchen Lama said. "We resolutely oppose all activities to split the country and undermine ethnic unity. We strongly condemn the crime of a tiny number of people which hurt the lives and properties of the people."

Dazhag Dainzin Geleg, vice-president of the Tibetan Branch of the Buddhist Association of China, said yesterday: "A handful of monks didn't study the scriptures and didn't follow our religious code, but echoed the Dalai clique in splittist efforts to undermine stability in Tibet and destroy the order of Tibetan Buddhism.

"What they did hurt the fundamental interests of the religious circle and believers. We stand firmly opposed to that," he said.

An outburst of violence on Friday, which the Tibetan regional government said was engineered by the Dalai clique, claimed the lives of 10 civilians and caused many injuries. Lhasa police rescued more than 580 people, including three Japanese tourists, from the violence.

Yesterday afternoon, reporters at Xinhua's Lhasa bureau saw many stores along the western Beijing Road, western Jinzhu Road and southern Linkuo Road open. Taxis and private cars were back on the roads.

But most shops in the Old Town area were still closed. Several shops were partially burnt down, while charred wreckage was strewn about some streets.

The regional government mobilized soldiers and civil servants yesterday afternoon to clear the debris from the turmoil at the worst-hit downtown areas.

Qiangba Puncog, the Tibet regional government chairman, who is in Beijing for the annual session of the National People's Congress, condemned the unrest on Saturday, and said they were "premeditated and organized" by the Dalai clique.

"Their separatist plot will not succeed. It's the common will of the Tibetan people to maintain national unity, ethnic solidarity and social harmony," he added.

Lhasa Mayor Doje Cezhug, who is also in Beijing for the lawmakers' session, told reporters yesterday that calm had returned to the city.

He said the unrest was provoked by a handful of monks and lawless persons.

"These acts are targeted at disturbing the happy and stable life of people in Tibet," he said.

"I hope peace and stability return to the people and Buddhist followers," the Panchen Lama said, adding that he resolutely supports government efforts to ensure safety and stability in Lhasa.

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