Lhasa riot not to challenge harmony among ethnic groups

Updated: 2008-03-26 22:36

BEIJING  -- The Lhasa riot will not undermine the harmony among different ethnic groups in Tibet, a tibetologist said here Wednesday.

"Instead, I think, the violence committed by a few lawbreakers has pushed people from every ethnic group closer together," said Lian Xiangmin, director of Research Projects Office with the China Tibetology Research Center, at a press conference.

Lian said he noticed that the violence not only targeted people of the Han ethnic group but also Tibetans.

During the riot on March 14, five assistants were burnt dead at a clothing store in Lhasa by the mob. Four of the shop assistants were Han, and the fifth was a Tibetan.

"We also heard stories that people from different ethnic groups saved each other's lives during the turmoil," said Lian.

He mentioned Losang Cering, a Tibetan doctor who suffered a broken cheekbone and cerebral concussion for saving a Han boy's life from rioters who attacked his ambulance on March 14.

"I think, through this incident, the people, including Tibetans, will get a real picture of the Dalai group, that they do not hesitate at using violence to realize their target of 'Tibet independence'," Lian said.

The Dalai group is headed by the 14th Dalai Lama, made up of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile and organizations supporting "Tibet independence", he said when asked to define the group.

Lian said of the Dalai Lama: "He appears as a follower of non-violence. As for whether he is a terrorist, we mainly see whether he is involved in terrorist activities."

The expert also expressed deep disappointment at monks who participated in the riot.

"Monks are supposed to follow the non-violence principle of Buddhism. Their participation in the riot violated the teaching of Buddhism," Lian said.

But there were people behind these monks, he said. "Tibetan monks have a tradition of worshipping living Buddha Dalai Lama but not such an individual as the 14th Dalai Lama. However some people with an ulterior motive took advantage of the monks' belief and trust in their religious masters and goaded them into the riot."

Lian said the government has been implementing policies aimed at helping Tibetan people have a good life. They have led to fast economic growth and improving living standards since the 1980s, he said.

The government will not change its policy toward religion and its stance that religion should keep away from politics, said Professor Tanzen Lhundrup, deputy director of Institute of Social and Economic Studies with the China Tibetology Research Center, at the same press conference.

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