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Chinese soldiers kill 140 Tibetans, Dalai Lama says

Friday, Aug 22, 2008, Page 1

The Dalai Lama accused Chinese soldiers yesterday of firing on a crowd in Tibet this week and killing a reported 140 people, as he warned that Beijing was planning the long-term “repression” of his people.

“The Chinese army again fired on a crowd on Monday Aug. 18, in the Kham region in eastern Tibet,” the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said in an interview with France’s Le Monde newspaper.

“One hundred and forty Tibetans are reported to have been killed, but the figure needs to be confirmed,” said the 73-year-old Buddhist who is in France for a 12-day visit.

Planned more than two years ago, the Dalai Lama’s French visit turned political after a Chinese crackdown on unrest in Tibet in March that sparked international outrage.


In the Le Monde interview, he said that since March, “reliable witnesses say that 400 people have been killed in the region of [the Tibetan capital] Lhasa alone.”

“Killed by bullets, even though they were protesting without weapons. Their bodies were never given back to their families … Ten thousand people have been arrested. We don’t know where they are imprisoned,” he said.

The March violence erupted in Lhasa after four days of peaceful protests against nearly six decades of Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama said it looked as though Chinese security forces were planning to continue their crackdown for many years to come.

While Chinese forces have long been present in the Himalayan region, “what is new is the construction of military camps.”


He said the “frenzy” of military building in the regions of Amdo and Kham “makes me think that this colonization by the army is destined to last.”

“A project of long-term brutal repression is under way,” he said.

He said that in the run-up to the Olympic Games that began this month, he had been hopeful of progress, encouraged by the commitment of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to begin serious talks.

“But we were quickly disillusioned. Our envoys came up against a wall. There was no opening,” he said in the interview.

He added that autonomy and not independence remained his goal for Tibet.

“Real autonomy, because we know what Chinese-style autonomy is: a trap,” he said.

France is struggling to mend ties with China after French President Nicolas Sarkozy angered Beijing by threatening to boycott the opening of the Olympic Games following the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

Sarkozy, who has declined to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to France, did however finally attend the ceremony in Beijing on Aug. 8. Sarkozy has been accused of snubbing the Lama to avoid provoking China during the Olympic Games, although the entourage of the Buddhist leader said he had not sought to see the president.

The Tibetan leader is set to meet with Sarkozy’s pop star wife Carla Bruni and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner today.

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Does the corruption stop here?

Friday, Aug 22, 2008, Page 8

The allegations of money laundering that have surfaced over the last week against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) have led to a frenzied debate about what can be done to prevent dishonest politicians from profiting from positions of power.

As usual, the pro-unification media have done their best to paint Chen as guilty, acting as judge and jury with sensationalized reports of underground money transfers and overseas bank accounts. Prosecutors’ investigations are ongoing, however, and Chen has yet to be charged, let alone convicted, of anything. It could be a number of years before we know the result of any trial.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), embarrassed by the revelations about its former leader and party strongman, has proposed measures to strengthen the regulation of public functionaries’ assets.

The changes would make unexplained and exorbitant income punishable by fines or a prison sentence.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), meanwhile — perhaps emboldened by its overwhelming victories in this year’s legislative and presidential elections — seems to think that a party that controls billions of NT dollars in stolen assets is worthy of bearing the “anti-corruption” mantle.

After electoral gains won in part because of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) promises of clean government, the KMT sees Chen’s apparent downfall as an opportunity to strengthen its image as an organization staunchly opposed to corruption.

This, despite the fact that the KMT-dominated legislature failed to act on a proposal similar to that of the DPP during the last legislative session and has stalled a batch of promising “sunshine laws” for years.

One might be forgiven for having some faith in the shower of promises to clean up the system in the wake of the Chen scandal but for the complete lack of action that was displayed when a similar problem arose last year.

When Ma was indicted on embezzlement charges relating to his special mayoral allowance during his tenure as Taipei mayor there was a cacophony of calls to reform the fundamentally flawed special allowance system.

More than a year and lots of hot air later, absolutely nothing has been done.

There has been no reform, no amnesty for past offenders and no action taken, other than a host of prominent pan-green camp members and former government officials being indicted over alleged misuse of their funds.

Given the inaction on the special allowance issue, it is a safe bet that nothing will be done following this latest episode.

If Chen is eventually charged and convicted, it will be a decisive victory for the KMT in its decade-long struggle to get even with him. This would also do untold damage to the image of the pro-localization movement.

It will further tarnish the DPP’s once respectable image, and the stain will take years, if not decades, to clear.

And yet all the promises of reform and talk of clean government will amount to nothing if, as in the past, the concern for this issue evaporates once the initial furor has died down and its usefulness for political gain has been expended.


A security official, bottom right, grabs a Tibetan flag from pro-Tibet activists as they protest opposite the National Stadium in Beijing yesterday.



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