TAIPEI–Human rights activists yesterday condemned China’s crackdown in Tibet and its role in a riot in Xinjiang, prior to the opening of China’s National People’s Congress, calling on Beijing to resolve its differences with China’s ethnic minorities. “Tibetans have been suffering under China’s brutal occupation of Tibet, and this has caused a number of self-immolations, 24 up to date (since 2009),” Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan poet and activist who is visiting Taiwan, said at a press conference in Taipei. Tsundue said Tibetans have been protesting because the “overwhelming” number of military police and intelligence officers living in Tibetan monasteries is “completely disrupting the ways of life of the Tibetan people.” He said the upcoming Chinese congress must address this situation and take responsibility. “They must accept the reality that Tibetans in Tibet are not happy,” said Tsundue, adding that similar situations are occurring in southern Mongolia, East Turkistan (Xinjiang) where the Uyghurs live, and to millions of Chinese workers and farmers.
Asked whether the situation in Tibet would change when China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, takes office, Tsundue said he is pessimistic that Xi could propose anything new due to the “rigidity” of the transfer of power in China. Paul Lin, a political commentator and an official from the Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist Corps, said the Chinese government should take responsibility for a deadly clash between Han Chinese and ethnic Uyghurs in Kashgar City on Feb. 28 that resulted in at least 12 deaths. He added that defaming Uyghur activists by labeling them as terrorists has pushed them towards extremism and is the root cause of the violent confrontations. Meanwhile, Tseng Chien-yuan, associate professor of Public Administration at Chung Hua University, criticized the recent remarks of Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Jia said, prior to the opening of the ten-day annual CPPCC session on Saturday, that the series of self-immolations by Tibetan monks were instigated by the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. “The problem is not with the Dalai Lama, but the Chinese Communist Party,” said Tseng. He called on the Chinese congress to seek reconciliation with different ethnic groups in the country in a “frank and sincere manner.” Tseng also advised the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan to play a more active role in speaking for the suppressed minorities during its meetings with China’s officials, saying that would make such meetings “more meaningful.” Furthermore, Chow Mei-li, chairwoman of Taiwan Friends of Tibet, called on the Chinese military and police to “immediately withdraw” from Tibetan monasteries and on the Taiwanese to deepen their understanding of Tibetan issues. Chow said that given Taiwan’s influence over China, its understanding of the Tibetan cause could educate the Chinese people about “what’s really going on in Tibet.” The ten day session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, brings together about 3,000 delegates to meet each year to mediate policy differences. It is held concurrently with the annual meeting of the CPPCC — a government advisory body.