TibetanReview.net, Jan 23, 2008
China may not have won hearts and minds in Tibet for their policies there, especially when it comes to the issued of religious freedom and faith in the Dalai Lama. But they have become adept at publicising the impression that all Tibetans fully support China and its policies in Tibet and thoroughly oppose the Dalai Lama or those seeking Tibet’s independence or autonomy. During a public meeting in December in Lithang County of Ganzi (Tibetan: Kandze) Prefecture, Sichuan province, Tibetans were asked to raise their hands if they opposed the Dalai Lama’s return; no one obliged, Reuters Jan 6 cited London-based Free Tibet Campaign (FTC) as saying. Residents were then asked to raise their hands if they did not have weapons at home. As it was illegal to possess firearms, and a campaign for their confiscation had been carried out recently, everyone did. A photo was then taken and sent to state media, claiming residents were showing their opposition to the Dalai Lama’s return.
Also in December, secretaries and accountants in townships in Gansu Province were invited on a nationwide tour paid for by the government. Before that, they were called to a meeting in capital Lanzhou and made to sign a petition on behalf of the people they represented, opposing the Dalai Lama’s return. An old man from Amchok town of Hezui (Tibetan: Tsoe) city who refused to sign was taken away and beaten, leading a group of young Tibetans to attack township secretaries and accountants while they were eating at a restaurant in Gyelmogon. Several secretaries were seriously injured and taken to hospital in Ganan (Tibetan: Kanlho) city, Anne Holmes, acting director of FTC has said, quoting a monk who had witnessed the attack and spoken to the injured.
Likewise, Matt Whitticase, spokesman for the group, has said Tibetans in Gansu had been forced to celebrate the New Year by slaughtering pigs, contravening their earlier decision not to butcher hogs so as to pray for long life for the Dalai Lama who was born in the Year of the Pig.
Asked about the above anti-Dalai Lama actions, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu has maintained, “Some overseas forces advocating “Tibet independence” have been engaged in anti-China separatist activities.” Speaking Jan 8 at a regular news conference, Jiang has also maintained, “Dalai has long been involved in activities against China under the mask of religion and advocating Tibet independence in the name of greater autonomy. We firmly oppose that,” according to an official press release from her ministry Jan 9.