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article imageDalai Lama Breaks His Silence on Xinjiang, China Violence Special

By Christopher Szabo     Jul 8, 2009 in World
The Dalai Lama has spoken out on the violence engulfing the northwestern part of China. The mineral-rich Xinjiang, or East Turkestan, has been experiencing unprecedented unrest in at least two centres, the capital, Urumqi, and the city of Kashgar.
In a statement sent by the Office of Tibet, the exiled Nobel Prize-winner said, "I am deeply saddened and concerned with the worsening situation in east Turkestan/Xinjiang, especially with tragic loss of lives. I earnestly urge the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation in a spirit of understanding and farsightedness."
The Tibetan leader added, "I offer my prayers for those who lost their lives, their families and others affected by this turn of events."
Meanwhile, the Tibetan Representative for Africa, Sonam Tenzing, compared the situation of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang to that of the Tibetans: "What is happening in East Turkestan/Xinjiang: The unrest, protests and clampdown looks very similar to what has happened in Tibet in 2008."
Speaking in a telephone interview from Pretoria, Tenzing said other countries could help minorities in China, "The international community can help minorities suffering under repressive regimes like China’s where the government of beautiful China has used all its power to control and repress any peaceful protest where people air their long-suppressed grievances."
Tenzing said other countries could influence the Chinese leadership, "The countries of the world can help by supporting the demands (of the Uyghurs) by persuading sincerely the Chinese government to stop and exercise restraint— just as His Holiness has expressed —and refrain from killing the ethnic minorities. In the present case it is the Turkestanis who are the minority, who are expressing their grievances."
In a similar call, the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, said demonstrators had the right to protest peacefully and those arrested had to be treated in line with international law.
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