While continuing to make arrests of suspected participants in the revolt in Tibet, the Chinese have at the same time mounted a damage control exercise to prevent the developments in Tibet from having an impact on their successful holding of the Beijing Olympics of August,2008.
2. The arrests, which started on March17,2008, have not so far been as massive as originally feared. The total number of Tibetan youth arrested so far has been estimated at about 150. What the Chinese have been doing is to arrest identified past offenders, who had spent time in the jail in the past for undesirable activities and had been released after they had completed their prison terms.In the initial wave of arrests, they have also been looking for persons without valid documents.
3. The Chinese have been trying to prove that those, who attacked the Han and Hui settlers and members of the security forces, were not sons of the soil, who, according to the Chinese, are happy with the Chinese rule and have excellent relations with the Hans, but infiltrators from outside. In the initial phase of enquiries, they are focussing on those Tibetans, who have relatives in India and the West in order to see whether any of them had recently visited their relatives abroad or whether their relatives living abroad had recently visited them.
4. The Chinese are convinced that the disturbances were not spontaneous, but pre-meditated and well organised. In his customary press conference after the conclusion of the session of the National People's Congress (NPC) held at Bejing on March 18,2008, the Prime Minister, Mr.Wen Jiabo, linked the disturbances to the Olympic Games and described them as "organized, premeditated, masterminded and instigated by the Dalai Lama clique".
5. The campaign against the Dalai Lama and his set-up in Dharamsala has been stepped up by the Chinese authorities as well as the government-controlled media in Beijing and Lhasa. He has been accused of telling lies when he talked of a cultural genocide in Tibet in his press conference of March 16. He has been projected as insincere and deceitful.In this connection, reference is being made to his protestations of his belief in non-violent methods and the actual violence in Tibet and Sichuan.
6. Even while condemning the Dalai Lama in strong language, the Chinese have kept open the possibility of a dialogue with him. Mr.Wen said at his press conference: "The door of dialogue is still open to Dalai, so long as he gives up the position for "Tibet Independence", so long as he recognizes Tibet and Taiwan as inalienable parts of the Chinese territory." But he remained silent on the Dalai Lama's assertion that he was advocating genuine autonomy for Tibet and not independence.
7. This is an intriguing part of the entire revolt in Tibet. While the Dalai Lama had been repeatedly saying even the past that his aim is genuine autonomy and not independence, the monks and the youth, who participated in the uprising between March 10 and 14,2008, were calling for independence. The Tibetan Youth Congress elements in India and the West do not seem to agree with the Dalai Lama that the Tibetans would be satisfied with genuine autonomy. It is apparent that the Tibetan Youth Congress played an active role in organising the world-wide demonstrations on March 10,2008, which in Tibet and Sichuan took a violent anti-Han turn.
8. The questions arising from this are: Was the Dalai Lama aware of the plans of the Tibetan Youth Congress? If so, why did he not try to stop them? If not, is he really in effective control of the Youth Congress? Was the violent uprising in Lhasa pre-meditated by the Youth Congress? If not, who was behind it? No convincing answers to these questions are available. The Chinese authorities see the entire thing as deliberately planned and organised by the Youth Congress with the knowledge of the Dalai Lama.
9. In a strongly-worded commentary based on a report from the Lhasa Bureau of the Government-owned Hsinhua news agency published on March 18,2008, the Government-owned "People's Daily" wrote as follows: " Memories of horror were alive again. Rioting that erupted in Lhasa on Friday resembled two previous riots in 1959 and 1989, only in its cruelty and always indisputable links to peace-preaching Dalai Lama.......In the shocking degree of cruelty which local Tibetans said they had not seen in their whole lives, "brutal" was an understatement of the true picture, but the word was only reserved for the mob, and not for the policemen......Such hostility was not "non-violence" as Dalai preached, but what the "revered" monk practiced. Religious leaders, local Tibetans and other residents stood out and condemned the riot. It is obvious that the latest well-planned sabotage in Lhasa was another bloody exercise of Dalai clique's political conspiracy....In recent years, the Dalai clique has been telling the world that they have stopped seeking "Tibetan independence". However, it is just another huge lie. In an effort to fan up the international community to link the "Tibet issue" with the Beijing Olympics, he repeatedly preached during his frequent international trips that the year 2008 is of key importance and the Olympic Games would be the "last chance" for the Tibetans. How can the Dalai clique justify themselves when the Tibetan Youth Congress vowed to pursue "Tibet independence" at the cost of blood and lives in a March 10 statement, which says "they would never give up the fight for Tibet independence"? ....After the riot broke out in Lhasa, the Dalai clique maintained real-time contacts through varied channels with the rioters, and dictated instructions to his hard core devotees and synchronized their moves, police sources say. Evidence again mounted against the Dalai coterie's trumpet for "non-violence", exposing them as a deceitful bunch."
10. The Chinese have been avoiding giving an impression of panic in Beijing over the developments. All the senior officials of the Tibet Administration and party apparatus, who had gone to Beijing to attend the NPC session, continue to be there and are letting their subordinates handle the situation in Tibet and Sichuan.
11. Before starting the arrests in Tibet on March 17,2008, the local authorities ordered all foreign tourists and journalists to leave the region for their own safety. They also stopped issuing permits for foreigners to visit Tibet. Prime Minister Wen has, however, promised that once the situation improved, the Government would take the initiative in taking a team of foreign journalists to Tibet.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and,presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )