By BETH LOYD by ABC News Beijing
Some 59 people have recently been detained in Tibet and accused of “spreading rumors” and selling “reactionary music,” according to a report in the China Tibet News, a state-run publication. March 10, 2009, marks the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama to India and one year of deadly protests in Tibet, protests that triggered a massive crackdown by the Chinese government in which, according to exile groups, 140 people were killed and 1,000 were detained. China fears that this year will bring more protests.
The report in the China Tibet News said that police officers have found 48 cases of “rumor spreading” since the March protests ("rumor spreading" is code for anti-government or pro-Dalai Lama expression ). Xin Yuanming, the deputy chief of the Lhasa public security bureau said authorities had cracked down on the downloading and selling of music it called “reactionary.”
Xin said that these “illegal activities” were instigated by the Dalai Lama and that the “rumors” were aimed at inciting ethnic tension in Tibet. The Dalai Lama maintains that he does not support violence or the overthrowing of Chinese rule. He said he supports greater autonomy for the region.
The report contained no further information about the charges or possible sentences that would be handed down if the accused are found guilty. Critics charge that China is using these trumped-up charges to detain people they believe could be involved in further protests.
Last month, state-run media reported that 55 people were sentenced in connection with the riots in March but did not give any further information about the allegations or sentences.
The Chinese government said that Tibet has been a part of its territory for more than seven centuries and has called the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, “evil.” Frequent anti-Dalai Lama editorials cover the pages of Chinese newspapers. The most recent commentary posted in the English language state-run China Daily is titled “Dalai Lama’s Nexus With Extremists.” It calls him a “separatist” and links him to Nazism and the Aum Doomsday cult.
Beijing gets very upset when world leaders meet with the Dalai Lama. In November, they canceled a Sino-European Union summit after French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with the spiritual leader.
Representatives of the Dalai Lama have met with Chinese officials several times in Beijing, but nothing has ever come of their talks. The Dalai Lama recently expressed his frustration at the lack of progress and suggested that it’s time for him to retire from leading the movement. Many members of the next generation within the Tibetan Youth Congress don’t support the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” approach. They support a stronger, more offensive stance.
When March 10 rolls around, all eyes will once again be on Tibet.
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