[JURIST] China has released more than 1,000 protesters detained by authorities during March demonstrations in Tibet [BBC backgrounder] Friday, according to comments attributed to a Chinese official by state press agency Xinhua. Speaking at a press conference on the Olympic Flame's visit to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, Chinese official Palma Trily said that 1,157 people detained in March have been released, while 116 more are still in custody, and 42 have been charged with crimes in connection with the demonstrations. Reporters from major world news services are on a state-guided visit to Tibet [Xinhua report] to cover the Olympic torch relay. The announcement of the prisoners' release comes two days after the release of an Amnesty International (AI) report [text; JURIST report] highlighting the plight of the detainees and calling on China to free all detainees who engaged in peaceful protest. The report also criticized [AI press release] China for severely censoring media reports on Tibet, blocking international journalists and independent human rights observers from entering the region, and physically abusing detained activists. Reuters has more. BBC has additional coverage.
Rights groups have criticized China for ongoing human rights violations [Human Rights Watch materials] targeted at Tibetans, and many call for the total independence [advocacy website] of the currently "semi-autonomous" region. In March, police in China detained 953 people [JURIST report], of whom 403 have been formally arrested, in connection with protests against Chinese rule in Tibet. In April, a Chinese court sentenced 30 people to prison for their roles in the protests. Chinese officials have blamed the exiled Dalai Lama [personal website] for organizing the protests.