Media tour in Gansu interrupted, resumes soon

Updated: 2008-04-09 15:14

XIAHE, Gansu Province -- A media tour to a riot-hit region in northwestern Gansu Province was interrupted by a group of lamas at the Labrang Lamasery on Wednesday, but it soon resumed.

An officer with the Information Office of China's State Council, organizer of the media tour, said the coverage of the reporters would go on as scheduled.

About 20 lamas rushed out of a building at the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe, and gathered in plaza in front of more than 20 Chinese and foreign journalists at around 12:30 on Wednesday.

The lamas left the site about five minutes later themselves as reporters resume their visit in the lamasery.

Gun'gyihu Jinba, deputy director of the temple's administrative office, said that there are more than 1,000 Buddhist disciples in the temple, and those who disrupted the tour were only a handful few.

"As you all can see, they tipped our religious order," he said.

Living Buddha Dainkaicang, director of the Buddhism Chapter in the Xiahe City, told reporters that the lamas were ignorant and were used by  separatists. "They were hoodwinked and instigated by the separatists. That was how the interruption happened," he added.

The Labrang monastery is one of the six most important lamaseries in the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is home to more than 1,000 lamas.

The reporters, including 11 from foreign media organizations such as the American Broadcasting Company, The Reuters, the Russian News and Information Agency and the TV Asashi Corporation of Japan are on their four-day trip in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture after the riots on March 14.

They are scheduled to visit the Xiahe, Hezuo, Maqu and Luqu, the worst hit areas in the riots and interview local residents, living buddhas, and  government officials.

Since March 14, beating, smashing, looting and arson occurred in the counties of Xiahe, Maqu, Luqu and Jone and Hezuo City in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

The riots saw 94 people injured, with an economic loss of 230 million yuan ($32.6 million). The injured include 64 police, 27 armed police, two government officials and one civilian, according to local government.

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

Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, told press Wednesday in Beijing that the lamas who spoke to foreign reporters were not punished.

"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."

"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," he said.

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