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Young Tibetans, Tired of Calls for Nonviolence, Want More Action

The recent unrest in Lhasa has turned up the heat on China as it prepares for the Beijing Olympics in August. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

March tenth was the anniversary of a failed nineteen fifty-nine uprising led by the Dalai Lama against Chinese rule in Tibet. It was also the start of the recent unrest in Lhasa, the capital.

On March fourteenth, largely peaceful protests turned into in the worst violence in Tibet in almost twenty years. Rioters burned buildings and attacked ethnic Han Chinese and Chinese Muslims, known as Hui. The unrest spread to other Tibetan areas of western China.

Tibetan exile groups say the situation turned violent after Chinese police used force against the demonstrators. They say at least one hundred forty people have been killed. Chinese officials put the number at about twenty.

The Chinese government blames the violence on supporters of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. He denies the accusations.

The Dalai Lama is seeking more political independence for Tibet. But the large Tibetan exile community based in India is increasingly restless with his calls for nonviolence.

Many exiles are unhappy that in two thousand one, he changed the aim of his campaign from independence for Tibet to autonomy under Chinese rule. Younger activists call for a "Free Tibet."

China has controlled Tibet since nineteen fifty-one.

On Thursday, about thirty Tibetan monks protested in front of a group of foreign reporters on a government-led visit in Lhasa. It happened in the Jokhang Temple.

Many of the monks were crying as they told the reporters that they were not involved in the recent violence. They said there is no religious freedom in Tibet. And they said the Chinese government's version of events is not true.

On Friday, official Chinese media reported that a government official in Tibet said the monks were trying to mislead world opinion. He said the monks would not be punished. But he also said Jokhang's one hundred seventeen monks could not leave the temple. Some are under investigation in the recent violence in Lhasa.

Chinese officials have said the unrest was especially aimed at the Beijing Olympics in August. The situation in Tibet has drawn international criticism and talk of boycotts at the opening ceremonies.

President Bush has expressed concern about the situation in Tibet, but is planning to attend the Olympics. On Friday, President Bush and Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, urged restraint in Tibet. They met at the White House.

Mister Rudd said there are clearly human rights abuses in Tibet. He urged the Chinese government to hold talks with the Dalai Lama or his representatives.

Mister Bush noted his telephone call Wednesday to China's President Hu Jintao. Mister Bush said he told him that it was in his country's interest to "sit down again" with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

The months ahead could be very important. Many young Tibetans feel that the Beijing Olympics may offer their last chance to bring more attention to their cause.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.