Canadians protest against violence in Tibet
Protesters in Canada and other countries took to the streets over the weekend to oppose China's actions against anti-government demonstrations in Tibet, which Beijing said Saturday it will "resolutely crush."
About 1,000 people rallied Sunday at Queen's Park in Toronto, urging the federal government to do more to pressure China to improve its shoddy human rights record in Tibet. The day before, about 300 protesters gathered in Vancouver outside the Chinese consulate, some chanting "free Tibet! End the killing!" while another rally occurred in Edmonton.
Similar events were held Saturday in London, Tokyo and New Delhi, while protests that rocked the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, earlier this month were nowhere to be seen Saturday as Chinese troops maintained their grip on the region.
The protests, originally led peacefully by Buddhist monks, turned into rioting on March 14. China has said more than 600 people were injured in the uprisings, which saw dozens of buildings burnt and destroyed. In contrast to the official Chinese death toll of 22 people, Tibetan exile groups claim 99 people were killed.
Statements by the Chinese government are difficult to verify because of China's tight control over information and a ban on trips by foreign reporters.
State media reports Saturday showed footage of Tibetan protesters attacking Chinese bystanders, while the communist government's leading newspaper sounded a call to "resolutely crush" the Tibetan demonstrations.
Reports showed destruction and burnt buildings, as well as interviews with Chinese workers who said they were caught up in the violence.
"My family, my wife, my children — if I can't see in one eye, what are they going to do? My children are still small," said one man, appearing on CCTV, the television network of the People's Republic of China.
Demonstrators in Canada, however, said they were skeptical about reports from the Chinese media and the accusations that have been levelled at Tibet's leader in exile, the Dalai Lama.
"It's just totally ludicrous. Look at the man," said Beth Gleason in Edmonton, pointing at a picture of the Dalai Lama pasted onto her placard. "He really looks like a wolf in sheep's clothing, or whatever they said, right?"
Beijing has consistently blamed Tibet's spiritual leader for orchestrating the violence in Lhasa in an attempt to mar the Summer Olympics. It repeated the allegation on Sunday.
For his part, the Dalai Lama again denied that he instigated the violence, and has urged his followers to show restraint and remain peaceful.
A top European politician said Saturday that China must negotiate with the Dalai Lama to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, or face a boycott to the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games this summer.
"Beijing must decide itself. It should immediately negotiate with the Dalai Lama," said European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, quoted in Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
"If there continue to be no signals of compromise, I see boycott measures as justified."
The European Union and the United States have said they do not support a boycott of the Beijing Games over the situation in Tibet.
With files from the Associated Press and the Canadian Press