Monks disrupting media coverage not punished

Updated: 2008-04-09 15:02

BEIJING -- The monks who spoke to foreign reporters in Johkang Temple during their Lhasa visit were not punished, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, here Wednesday.

"They are still in Johkang Temple and will be if they do not participate in any law-breaking activities such as beating, smashing, robbing and burning," Qiangba Puncog told a press conference here.

As a country ruled by law, China will not punish anyone for expressing their opinions to the media, he said, "But if they commit any crime, it is another issue."

A group of monks disrupted a media coverage tour in the Jokhang Temple on March 27 when reporters from 19 media organizations including foreign ones paid a three-day visit to Lhasa after the March 14 violence.

"I think it is natural for some lamas to have their own opinions and talk to the media," said Qiangba Puncog. "But what they said is not true."

Citing a monk saying that the authority killed more than 100 people in Lhasa, he said that the monk himself later said he learned this from the Voice of America.

Foreign reporters can still visit Tibet after going through relevant procedures, he said.

"For safety concern, foreigners and foreign media need to follow relevant regulations of China. We neither want to restrict media coverage nor have we anything to cover up," he said.

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