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Dharamsala, Feb. 13: The US Wednesday expressed its concern on situation in Tibet, but did not specify if the issue would definitely be taken up by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to China later this month, according to a media report.

“You know, the situation in Tibet is something the US government has been concerned about for some time. We’ve raised that issue with the Chinese in the past,” PTI reported the State Department spokesperson, Robert Wood, as saying.

“The Secretary (of State) will be having a wide-ranging discussion with the Chinese when she is in China. I am not going to get beyond what we have said publicly about our engagement with China,” he said.

“But human rights issues are something that will be at the top of the Secretary’s agenda, no matter where she goes,” Wood said.

Wood was reportedly responding to a question about the latest statement from the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama that the situation in Tibet is very tense and there could be a popular uprising any moment.

“The issue could very well come up. I just don’t want to get into specific subject areas at this point. But you can expect that the Secretary is going to be bringing up human rights issues throughout the trip, where she deems it necessary to do so”, he said when asked about whether the issue would come up or not.

Mrs. Clinton, only a month into the job, as announced by the State Department last week, would be travelling on her first overseas trip in this position to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China during her week-long trip beginning February 15.

Meanwhile, seven prominent organizations, mostly based in US, Tuesday issued a joint press statement asking Mrs Clinton to put Human Rights on top of the agenda in her visit to Beijing next week.

In the statement, Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, and Reporters Without Borders urged Secretary Clinton to speak publicly about Tibet and Xinjiang, torture in police custody, domestic press censorship, extrajudicial detention, and abuses of human rights defenders.

The statement recalls the secretary’s own past comments on human rights in China, in which she stressed: “not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions.”

“If Secretary Clinton remains silent on these issues – as the US did earlier this week during China’s review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva – the Chinese government is likely to get the wrong message,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

“We ask the secretary to stress human rights, the rule of law, and protections for civil society as a centerpiece of US policy going forward,” she said.

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MPs from 8 European countries have come together to form a new Parliamentary
caucus on Burma. The new caucus is launched to coincide with the 63rd
birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi – the detained leader of Burma’s democracy
movement. They hope to recruit more than 200 MPs to the caucus before the
end of the year.

The caucus aims to raise awareness of Burma in Europe and pressure European
governments to do more to bring about democratic transition in Burma. The 7
key objectives are:

· To seek stronger action on Burma from European governments, the
European Union, the United Nations Security Council, and other governments
and international institutions.

· To foster contacts with our fellow MPs from Burma.

· To foster contacts with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on
Myanmar, and other Asian MPs.

· To put forward motions, questions, and initiate debates on Burma in
our Parliaments.

· To provide monthly updates on the situation in Burma for European MPs.

· To cultivate links with civil society organisations knowledgeable
about Burma.

· To act as a strong public voice for democratisation in Burma.

John Bercow, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary group for Democracy in
Burma in the British Parliament said: “We are creating this European
Parliamentary Caucus on Burma because it will enable parliamentarians from
across Europe to share information and to lobby together for more effective
measures to bring the regime to heel and to speed up the progress to
democracy for the long suffering people of Burma.”

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YI BUI KHAW, Myanmar – The saffron-robed monks who spearheaded a bloody uprising last fall against Myanmar‘s military rulers are back on the front lines, this time providing food, shelter and spiritual solace to cyclone victims.

The military regime has moved to curb the Buddhist clerics’ efforts, even as it fails to deliver adequate aid itself. Authorities have given some monasteries deadlines to clear out refugees, many of whom have no homes to return to, monks and survivors say.

“There is no aid. We haven’t seen anyone from the government,” said U Pinyatale, the 45-year-old abbot of the Kyi Bui Kha monastery sharing almost depleted rice stocks and precious rainwater with some 100 homeless villagers huddled within its battered compound.

Similar scenes are being repeated in other areas of the Irrawaddy delta and Yangon, the country’s largest city, where monasteries became safe havens after Cyclone Nargis struck May 3 — and the regime did little.

“In the past I used to give donations to the monks. But now it’s the other way around. It’s the monks helping us,” said Aung Khaw, a 38-year-old construction worker who took his wife and young daughter to a monastery in the Yangon suburb of Hlaingtharyar after the roof of his flimsy house was blown away and its bamboo walls collapsed.

One of the monastery’s senior monks said he tried to argue with military officials who ordered the more than 100 refugees to leave.

“I don’t know where they will go. But that was the order,” he said, asking for anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The government has not announced such an order, which appeared to be applied selectively. Other monasteries in Yangon have been told to clear out cyclone victims in coming days, the monk said, but in the delta, refugees were being allowed to remain or told they could come to monasteries for supplies but not shelter.

“They don’t want too many people gathering in small towns,” said Hla Khay, a delta boat operator. The regime “is concerned about security. With lots of frustrated people together, there may be another uprising.”

Larger monasteries were being closely watched by troops and plainclothes security men — “invisible spies” as one monk called them.

Such diversion of manpower at a time when some 1.5 million people are at risk from disease and starvation reflects the regime’s fear of a replay of last September, when monks led pro-democracy demonstrations that were brutally suppressed.

Monks were shot, beaten and imprisoned, igniting anger among ordinary citizens in this devoutly Buddhist country. An unknown number remain behind bars, and others have yet to return to their monasteries after fleeing for fear of arrest.

“I think after the September protests, the government is afraid that if people live with the monks in the monasteries, the monks might persuade them to participate in demonstrations again,” said a dentist in Yangon, who also asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals.

Newspapers have been ordered not to publish stories about monks aiding the people, and at least one monastery and one nunnery in Yangon were prohibited from accepting any supplies from relief organizations.

“The government is very controlling,” said U Pinyatale, the abbot at the Kyi Bui Kha monastery. “Those who want to give directly to the victims get into trouble. They have to give to the government or do it secretly. (The military) follows international aid trucks everywhere. They don’t want others to take credit.”

It appears unlikely that foreign aid organizations seeking to enter Myanmar will be allowed to use monks as conduits for relief supplies as many had hoped.

“One of the best networks already in place in the country are the monks,” said Gary Walker of PLAN, a British-based international children’s group, speaking from Bangkok. “So we’ll be exploring ways in which we can see whether the monks can start distributing supplies throughout the country.”

At the Kyi Bui Kha monastery, located on the banks of the Pyapon River deep in the delta, U Pinyatale glanced anxiously at the remaining 10 bags of rice.

“At most, we have enough for the week. We will have to find a way to get more food,” he said as monks and villagers worked together to try to dry the sodden rice, even as rain clouds gathered above the largely roofless monastery.

In Yangon, monks have been able to go out on their traditional morning rounds to accept food donations from the faithful and then share these with refugees at their monasteries. But in devastated areas of the delta that is not an option.

About 90 of the 120 houses in Kyi Bui Kha have been totally destroyed. Gaps in the monastery’s storm-riddled wooden walls revealed a 360-degree view of ravaged rice fields.

U Pinyatale said the sanctuary’s two dozen monks and nuns were also trying to offer spiritual comfort to the traumatized villagers.

“We pray with them. We pray for the dead to go to the peaceful land of the dead and for the living to rebuild their lives,” he said.

“When the cyclone came, all of us hid in the rice warehouse. I saw one person holding tightly onto a tree but he did not make it,” the abbot added. “After the storm, there were dead bodies floating everywhere. Some people get nightmares. Some hear voices at night that their dead children are calling for help. Some haven’t spoken since.”

I say yes. Chinese human rights issues far out weigh any complaint of athletes missing out. Of course, athletes want their five minutes of fame–but what about the Tibetan people who have been fighting for decades? This may be the last chance to save their entire CULTURE!

But who cares, right?

No one listened to the Monks in Burma who are languishing still even now, forgotten after a brief outcry back in October. Now the focus shifts to Tibet, but for how long? Until the games are over? Until the Chinese crack and crush the protests and all goes quiet, again?

I don’t blame the Chinese people, but the government.

They’re doing to the people what they did to those poor diseased cats… out of sight, out of mind.

A prayer for Tibet:

(Image: Christina Cooper-Cummings 2007)

Image from the New York Times

According to the NY Times the Dalai Lama has stated that he won’t stop the protests by the Tibetan people, even though the deadline given by the Chinese Government has passed.

From the NY Times article:

MCLEODGANJ, India — The Dalai Lama said Sunday that he would not instruct his followers inside Tibet to surrender before Chinese authorities, and he described feeling “helpless” in preventing what he feared could be an imminent blood bath.

“I do feel helpless,” he said in response to a question at a wide-ranging, emotionally charged news conference here in what has served as the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile for nearly 40 years. “I feel very sad, very serious, very anxious. Cannot do anything,”

His aides said they had received reports from Tibet of 80 killings on Thursday and Friday alone, in and around the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, including 26 slain just outside a prison called Drapchi. Chinese state media has reported 10 deaths and characterized most of them as shopkeepers ”burned to death” during protests.

Tibetan exiles here said they had also received news of at least two Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire as an act of protest; that claim could not be independently confirmed.

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BBC Coverage:

Other:

Fires have broken out in the Tibetan city of Lhasa amid reports of rioting, as rare street protests led by Buddhist monks appeared to gather pace.

One eyewitness told the BBC how large groups of people were setting fire to cars and shops and destroying anything of Chinese influence.

The US embassy in Beijing said US citizens had reported hearing gunfire.

Rallies have continued all week in what are thought to be the largest protests against Beijing’s rule in 20 years.

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, released a statement expressing deep concern, saying the protests were a “manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people”.

The Dalai Lama, who heads Tibet’s government-in-exile in India, called on the Chinese leadership to stop using force and begin dialogue with the Tibetan people.

He also urged Tibetans not to resort to violence.

“As I have always said, unity and stability under brute force is at best a temporary solution. It is unrealistic to expect unity and stability under such a rule,” the statement said.

Tear gas

The US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said at least one police car had been set on fire on Friday.

ICT spokeswoman Kate Saunders said her group had received reports that the Tromsikhang market in Barkhor Street – a busy commercial neighbourhood – was either on fire or had burnt down.

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Prominent leaders of the 88 Generation Students group, who led protests in August, were arrested at a hiding place in Rangoon on Saturday morning, said dissident sources.

The leaders, who were arrested on October 12, were named as Htay Kywe, Mie Mie and Aung Thu. A fourth person, Ko Ko, who helped them hide, was also arrested last night, said the sources.

Another leader of the group, Soe Tun, told The Irrawaddy that he heard news of the arrest today and has been trying several times to contact them. “But I have not been able to reach them,” said Soe Tun from his hiding place.

“We have asked the international community many times to help us and to monitor the detainees’ situation at detention centers. Former student leaders, such as Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi have spent more than 15 years behind bars. At the very least, the International Committee of the Red Cross should be able to visit them immediately,” said Soe Tun.

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THE mystery of what happened to Burma’s saffron army, the thousands of monks who inspired a nation to rise up against a brutal regime, then vanished overnight, has been unlocked.

Taken from their monasteries in a wave of midnight raids, they have been held in primitive, humiliating conditions designed to break them down physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The account of an 18-year-old novice, who was taken from the Mingalar Rama monastery in Rangoon, reveals that while the military may be in physical control, the monks still wield a powerful spiritual weapon.

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These images were taken inside Burma during the recent uprising. Obviously I cannot name who took them for safety reasons, nor do I want to link to the person who allowed me to post them. If you recognize these pictures… thank you, for letting the truth be shown.

(9) A young Burmese Buddhist monk holding a bowl upside down (24-9-07).jpg

(16) Burmese Buddhist nuns marching with prayers (24-9-07).jpg

(15) Burmese Buddhist monks marching, praying (24-9-07).jpg

Aftermath