HONG KONG (CNS): The Hong Kong diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission urged China to stop its suppression of demonstrators and media in Tibet.
“We protest that the Chinese Government uses force to suppress the (Tibetan) demonstrators and forbids Hong Kong reporters to cover unrest in Tibet,” the commission said in a March 18 statement.
Commission spokeswoman Or Yan Yan told Catholic News Service the commission asked the Chinese Government to stop all forms of suppression in Tibet and to enter into dialogue with the Tibetan people.
“We ask the Chinese Government to ensure that its people may enjoy … civil rights as stated in its constitution and to allow (the Tibetan) people to enjoy autonomy and to respect their religion and culture,” Ms Or said.
In its statement, the justice and peace commission said the demonstrations were partially to protest China’s abuse of Tibetans’ right to autonomy; it said China had forced Tibetans to adopt the culture of ethnic Hans.
The commission also urged Beijing to respect freedom of the press and allow the media to cover the news in Tibet.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association said that keeping the media from covering the unrest in Tibet was unacceptable. Hong Kong journalists were ordered and escorted out of the Tibetan city of Lhasa on March 17.
“Banning Hong Kong reporters from covering news in Tibet will only arouse suspicions in the outside world that the Government is going to cover up certain facts. It will be detrimental to the opening-up image of China,” the association said on March 17.
What began in Tibet in early March as relatively peaceful protests to mark the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule turned to rioting followed by a crackdown by Chinese troops.
Chinese authorities said the final death toll was 13 people, while Tibetan exile groups put the figure at more than 80.
China claims sovereignty over Tibet while many Tibetans, including those loyal to the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, want a return to autonomy for the region.
The Dalai Lama called the crackdown “cultural genocide” and threatened to resign as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile if the situation spun out of control.