By John Ruwitch
© Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
BEIJING (Reuters) - Tibetan monks stormed a news briefing at a temple in Lhasa on Thursday, accusing Chinese authorities of lying about recent unrest and saying the Dalai Lama had nothing to do with the violence, foreign reporters said.
The incident was an embarrassment to the Chinese government, which brought a select group of foreign reporters to Lhasa for a stage-managed tour of the city, where authorities say stability has been restored since violence broke out on March 14.
The government has also been saying security forces acted with restraint in response to international concern over the unrest ahead of the Olympics in August.
A group of uninvited young monks at the Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred in Tibet and a top tourist stop in central Lhasa, stormed into a briefing by a temple administrator.
"About 30 young monks burst into the official briefing, shouting: 'Don't believe them. They are tricking you. They are telling lies'," USA Today Beijing-based reporter Callum MacLeod said by telephone from Lhasa.
Hong Kong's TVB aired television footage of the bold outburst in front of the first foreign journalists allowed into Tibet since the violence, showing the monks in crimson robes, some weeping, crowded around cameras.
The monks said they had been unable to leave the temple since March 10, when demonstrations erupted in Lhasa on the 49th anniversary of an abortive uprising against Chinese rule that saw Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, flee to exile in India.
"They just don't believe us. They think we will come out and cause havoc -- smash, destroy, rob, burn. We didn't do anything like that -- they're falsely accusing us," said one monk. "We want freedom. They have detained lamas and normal people."
Wang Che-nan, a cameraman for Taiwan's ETTV, said the incident lasted about 15 minutes, after which unarmed police took the monks elsewhere in the temple, away from the journalists.
"They said: 'Your time is up, time to go to the next place'," Wang said.
Looks like the wheels fell off the CCP Propaganda machine. Letting China host the Olympics was a dumb decision by the IOC. Berlin, Moscow now Beijing, it is always a bad idea to let totalitarian states host the Olympics.