News and Views on Tibet

Pro-Tibet protests continue in Australia

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Pro-Tibetan demonstrations continued around Australia on Sunday as the international community pressed China to show restraint over its handling of strife in Tibet’s capital Lhasa.

Chinese soldiers are blanketing Lhasa as part of a security clampdown which followed deadly protests in the city against China’s rule of Tibet.

Official Chinese reports put the death toll at 10 but the exiled Tibetan government believes it is more like 30, and possibly as high as 100.

Washington has urged Beijing to exercise restraint, as has Australia.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has called on China to allow the peaceful expression of dissent, a position backed by the opposition.

“I think what’s been said and done to date is appropriate,” opposition foreign affairs spokesman Andrew Robb told reporters.

Concern about the plight of the Tibetans has prompted sympathy protests around the world, including Australia.

In Melbourne, more than 100 protesters demonstrated outside the Chinese consulate, with some hurling eggs and water bottles at the mission in suburban Toorak.

What began as a peaceful affair turned rowdy as a handful of demonstrators repeatedly surged towards the consulate’s gates, before being pushed back by federal and state police officers, including mounted police.

At one point, a car driven by an unidentified Chinese man was pelted with eggs and battered with flagpoles as it drove into the consulate compound.

A female protester who sneaked past the police line and followed the car inside was chased by police and frogmarched back outside before being cautioned.

The Melbourne demonstration follows protests in Sydney on Saturday which ended with clashes between police and activists.

A protest outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra, which had Australian Federal Police (AFP) vehicles stationed outside, was peaceful.

An AFP spokeswoman said about 20 people had been protesting outside the embassy but there had not been any problems.

In Sydney, a 31-year-old man was charged with assaulting a police after four pro-Tibet activists were arrested during a protest outside the Chinese consulate.

Members of the Australian Tibetan community have apologised for the behaviour of some protesters at the consulate on Dunblane Street, Camperdown.

Police said the protest escalated when activists climbed onto the front gate of the consulate and damaged a flag inside.

“A police officer was allegedly hit over the head with a placard before being punched and kicked,” a NSW police statement said.

Officers used capsicum spray to control the crowd of about 100 people.

Four people were arrested during the protest, but three were later released.

A 31-year-old man has been charged with common assault and assaulting police.

He was granted bail and is due to appear at Newtown Local Court on April 4, 2008.

The protests in Lhasa were held to mark the anniversary of the Tibetans’ 1959 uprising against the Chinese that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

The unrest has presented China’s communist rulers with a huge domestic crisis just five months out from the Beijing Olympics.

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