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China rebuffs call for details on missing monks

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, spoke at a press conference in Australia yesterday. He said that China is not his enemy, but that some hard-line communists are. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, spoke at a press conference in Australia yesterday. He said that China is not his enemy, but that some hard-line communists are. (Julian Smith/Associated Press)
By Associated Press
June 10, 2011

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BEIJING — China rejected pressure from a UN human rights panel about more than 300 Tibetan monks and said yesterday that local authorities are “conducting legal education’’ for the monks to maintain order.

A UN human rights panel on Wednesday asked for full information on the fate of more than 300 Tibetan monks whose whereabouts it said are unknown since they were allegedly arrested in April, though some have reportedly been released.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that there had been “no such thing as enforced disappearance’’ of the monks.

“The relevant local authorities are conducting legal education for the Kirti monastery monks in order to maintain religious order there,’’ Hong said. “We should disregard bias and adopt an objective and fair perspective in looking at this.’’

The monastery in Sichuan Province has been the site of tensions between authorities and those advocating independence for Tibet. In March, a monk set himself on fire there in protest against Chinese rule.

The death of Rigzin Phuntsog, 16, prompted the Chinese government to enforce legal education at the monastery, including learning the basics of the Chinese constitution and regulations on religious affairs.

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said more than 300 monks were allegedly detained by Chinese security forces April 21. It urged authorities to investigate and punish those responsible for disappearances.

“Enforced disappearance is a terrible practice that must not be permitted to occur anywhere and no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify an enforced disappearance,’’ the panel said.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, said China is not his enemy, but that some hard-line communists are.

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