China slams EU on Tibet statement; world protests mount

(dpa) -  Amid protests around the world about China's handling of the Tibet unrest, Beijing on Monday blasted the European Union for interference at the same time that China made a show of business as usual in staging the launch of the Olympic torch relay.

The Chinese foreign ministry warned the EU that Tibet was an internal affair and that a recent EU statement on the unrest was interference.

"The Tibet issue is completely China's internal affair," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement posted on the ministry's website. "No foreign countries or international organizations have the right to interfere in it."

EU foreign ministers had issued a statement on Saturday after their meeting in Brdo, Slovenia, saying the body "calls for an end to violence and asks that arrested persons be treated in conformity with international standards."

Jiang said the EU statement could send a "wrong signal" to the international community and "encourage Tibetan separatists in their violent crimes."

In a further development, China's state-run media ran reports Monday supposedly proving that Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama had orchestrated the recent wave of unrest.

A suspect - who was not further identified in the reports - was cited as saying he was called on by the security department of the Tibetan exile government in Dharamsala, India, to distribute leaflets calling on Tibetans to rise up in protest.

Also, the reports said, a "Dalai Lama clique" had decided on March 14 - the same day that protests erupted in Lhasa - to mobilise the monasteries.

While China was blaming the Dalai Lama and accusing the EU of interference, around the world protest demonstrations were being held to condemn Chinese actions in Tibet.

The demonstrations came on a global action day for the Tibetan cause called to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic torch in Beijing.

More than 150 Tibetan organizations worldwide have called on the International Olympic Committee to take Tibet off the Olympic torch route and have requested the torch relay sponsors - Coca Cola, Lenovo and Samsung - to withdraw their sponsorship.

In Kathmandu, Nepalese police Monday detained nearly 150 anti- China demonstrators as Tibetan exiles kept up their protests against repression in their homeland.

The demonstrators were rounded up and dragged into police vans and trucks from the Chinese embassy visa office, which has become the new focus of Tibetan demonstrations.

The anti-Chinese demonstrations by Tibetans on Monday were by far the biggest since the protests erupted on March 10, involving about 350 demonstrators, including monks, nuns and youths.

The demonstrators tried to converge on the Chinese embassy visa offices in small groups but were detained by riot police before they could reach the area.

In New Delhi, Tibetan exiles appealed to Indians chosen to be Olympic torchbearers to withdraw from the torch relay in a show of support for their cause.

More than 500 Tibetan protestors gathered in the heart of the Indian capital to make the appeal and present 100 boxes representing 1.35 million signatures to a petition demanding China hold talks with the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

The Olympic torch is scheduled to pass through the Indian capital on April 17 and the Tibetan organizations are planning major demonstrations on that day.

In Jakarta, around 200 activists demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy to protest Beijing's policies in Tibet. Some called for Tibetan independence, while others demanded Beijing stop its crackdown following violent anti-government riots earlier this month.

In Sydney, more than 500 people took part in a global day of action against violence in Tibet that was timed to coincide with the handover of the Olympic torch to Chinese representatives.

Police said the protest was peaceful, and there was no reprise of the violent confrontation earlier this month when demonstrators stormed the Chinese consulate in Sydney.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia had been given an assurance the Tibetan monks who protested during a government- organized media tour of Tibet last week would not be harmed.

In Amsterdam, protesters were preparing to hold a demonstration in the evening, organized by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Netherlands and the Tibet Support Group in the Netherlands. Organiser expected some 300 people to take part in the demo.

Meanwhile Chinese President Hu Jintao launched the torch relay for the 2008 Olympics in Tianmen Square - site of the bloody June, 1989 crackdown on Chinese reform activists - shortly after the Olympic flame arrived by plane from Greece.

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