BEIJING (AP) – China’s premier denounced the Dalai Lama’s supporters as instigators of violent anti-Chinese riots in Tibet’s capital, taking a hard stance today as a deadline for protesters to turn themselves in passed without any apparent surrenders.
Premier Wen Jiabao’s remarks were the highest-level response to last week’s rampage in Lhasa, which the government has said killed 16 people and injured dozens. The Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile in India has said that 80 Tibetans were killed.
“There is ample fact – and we also have plenty of evidence – proving that this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique,” Wen told reporters at a news conference held at the end of China’s national legislative meeting. He did not give any details.
“This has all the more revealed that the consistent claims made by the Dalai clique that they pursue not independence but peaceful dialogue are nothing but lies,” he said.
He also dismissed claims by the exiled Dalai Lama that there was “cultural genocide” taking place in his homeland. The revered spiritual leader fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
The hardline stance taken by the normally mild-manner Wen underscored the communist leadership’s determination to regain control over the region and ensure a smooth run up to this summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The Tibetan protests began peacefully March 10 on the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising. Tibet had been effectively independent for decades before Chinese communist troops entered in 1950.
They grew increasingly violent, culminating Friday with widespread street violence in Lhasa, and have spilled into neighboring provinces and even the capital, Beijing, where students staged a vigil Monday.
Champa Phuntsok, Tibet’s China-appointed governor, said Monday that the death toll from the unrest had risen to 16 and that dozens were injured. He denied a claim by the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile in India that 80 Tibetans died.
Wen said the protesters killed bystanders, smashed public utilities and cars and set fire to stores.