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Thousands of people have rallied in Tokyo as Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a rare visit, denouncing Beijing’s crackdown in Tibet and demanding Japan exert pressure on him.

Police were deployed in force to protect Mr Hu, who is paying his first foreign visit since major demonstrations against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet in March, casting a shadow over the Beijing Olympics.

Riot police formed a human chain to seal off central Tokyo’s sprawling Hibiya Park, where at least 300 demonstrators chanted, “Arrest the murderer Hu!” and “Hu, get out!”

Police shoved back some 10 demonstrators who tried to push through a barricade and threw paper Tibetan flags at an official-looking car entering the park, where Mr Hu and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda were to have dinner.

Adding to the chaos, throngs of young people were also in the park to listen to a loud hard-rock concert being held on a sunny public holiday.

Elsewhere in Tokyo, about 4,200 people, including Tibetans and members of China’s Uighur minority, took to the streets, according to organisers.

They held signs that read, “Hu Jintao, respect the Olympic spirit” and “Don’t kill our friends.”

“I hope that the Japanese, who have a tradition of justice and share with us both physical similarities and Buddhist culture, would say to the Chinese ‘Don’t do what’s wrong,'” Tibetan refugee Kalden Obara told the rally.

China, under fire over its clampdown in Tibet, this week reopened talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, the Himalayan region’s exiled spiritual leader.

“But I don’t want the Chinese Government to pretend to hold talks only for the sake of the Beijing Olympics’ success,” Obara said to a storm of applause.

Mr Hu’s visit, long in the planning, is the first by a Chinese president to Japan in 10 years as Asia’s two largest economies try to improve ties marred by wartime memories.

Opposition lawmaker Yukio Edano called on Mr Fukuda, known for his conciliatory views towards China, to raise the Tibet issue forcefully with Mr Hu.

“If Prime Minister Fukuda’s meeting with President Hu Jintao is a mere formality, that means that we are accomplices in China’s crimes in Tibet,” Mr Edano said.

China has arrested nine Tibetan Buddhist monks who have been accused of a bomb attack, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Chinese officials said the monks’ homemade bomb exploded in a government building in eastern Tibet on 23 March.

Xinhua news agency did not explain why the alleged bomb incident was not reported at the time.

News of the arrests came as Beijing continued to attack overseas critics of its crackdown in the Himalayan region.

Xinhua said the monks confessed to planting the explosive in Gyanbe township.

Beijing’s claims that the recent Tibetan protests were part of a violent campaign by the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader, to disrupt Chinese rule in Tibet and sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August.

Bombing unreported

The alleged bombing is the first to be reported in Tibet since the anti-China protests began 10 March in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

After China’s crackdown, demonstrations by pro-Tibet activists – and other groups critical of Beijing’s human rights record – have haunted the Olympic torch relay in London, Paris and San Francisco this month, stirring anger in China.

Chinese President Hu Jintao took a hard line Saturday, saying the problems in Tibet were a purely internal affair directly threatening Chinese sovereignty.

You’ve seen the images on YouTube and in the news papers…

… Chinese security forces brutally attacking unarmed, non-violent protestors, including Buddhist monks, in Tibet.

But, you don’t have to sit idly by and just watch. You can take action right now to help secure the freedom of 15 Tibetan monks who were arrested on March 10 for staging a peaceful protest in Barkhor, Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Sign the Amnesty Petition to the President of China, Hu Jintao, demanding the release of 15 Tibetan monks who were detained on March 10 for staging a peaceful demonstration in Barkhor, Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. There is no information on their current whereabouts or of any charges brought against them. They are at high risk of torture and other ill treatment.

What we do know, is that by acting together we can place enormous pressure on the Chinese Government at a moment when they are trying to put their best face forward in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games. By acting now, we can secure the immediate release of the 15 monks and the other peaceful protestors that were detained with them.

In recent days, Amnesty International has met with Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and with senior White House officials. We are placing enormous pressure on the Chinese Government to stop the violence, open up the region to foreign reporters and to free peaceful protestors.

But, we need your immediate help to keep the pressure on.


Larry Cox
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA