Tibet crackdown fear as China protests escalate

 

Beijing

Rights groups accused China of tightening security in restive Tibetan areas after a wave of self-immolation protests cast a shadow over the Communist Party congress in Beijing. Despite growing international calls for an independent inquiry, China said it would refuse to allow foreign observers into Tibet to investigate human rights abuses.

Six people have set fire to themselves since Wednesday, the eve of the crucial congress, in an attempt to draw attention to rights abuses in Tibetan regions.

As Chinese leaders were meeting – behind closed doors – to decide the composition of the political elite, hundreds of Tibetans gathered to protest in Rongwo, in Qinghai province, after the sixth self-immolation victim, Kalsang Jinpa, an 18-year-old monk, killed himself there on Thursday.

Armed police in paramilitary vehicles stepped up patrols in the province, Agence France-Presse reported, with experts saying the protests could prompt further clampdowns.

Rights groups say 69 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March last year. At least 56 have died. Most of the protesters in Rongwo were secondary school students who marched through the town, shouting for independence and for the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, from exile.

"These huge student protests are part of the wider Tibetan struggle for freedom. These brave young people are asserting their Tibetan identity as the Chinese Communist Party meets to decide the man who will lead the occupation of Tibet," said Free Tibet Director, Stephanie Brigden.

Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet's rubber stamp regional assembly, accused external Tibetan separatist forces and "the Dalai clique" of sacrificing the lives of others to achieve ulterior political motives, and rejected calls for overseas monitors.

"We hope people from all fields within the country and outside go to Tibet often to look around, study and travel, but as to some other aspects, we are not that welcoming," he said.

Foreign journalists are barred from Tibet and have difficulty travelling to the Tibetan areas of neighbouring Sichuan and Qinghai, which means it is difficult to verify the situation. Mr Qiangba said it was "inappropriate" for anyone who wanted to investigate human rights to propose entering Tibet. On Thursday, he told the South China Morning Post: "I can't say there are no self-immolations in Tibet; however, most Tibetan people and monks didn't burn themselves."

Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister of the government-in-exile in Dharamsala in India, said the younger generation of Chinese leaders "must recognise that China's hardline policies in Tibet have utterly failed and only through dialogue can a peaceful and lasting solution be found". At the Beijing congress, many important decisions are made by people who long ago disappeared off the official political radar. Jiang Zemin, the 86 year-old former leader, who many believed had died last year, has featured strongly in the congress, a sign he still wields influence. A known rival of Hu Jintao, he sat impassively on stage as the President gave his address.

Xi Jinping is expected to take over from President Hu next week, probably on Thursday, but until the horse-trading is over, it is unclear whether there will be seven or nine members of the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin