[JURIST] The Chinese government on Sunday blocked Internet users in the country from accessing the video-sharing website YouTube [corporate website] after videos of a recent government crackdown [YouTube video] on Tibetan protesters challenging Chinese rule were posted on the site. The protests [BBC backgrounder] over degradation of Tibetan culture and a flood of new Chinese immigrants into the region escalated into violence in the capital Lhasa on Friday with reports that as many as 80 protesters had been killed. Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama [personal website] on Sunday deplored [press release] the use of violence by both the protesters and the government, but said that the region is facing "cultural genocide".
In an earlier statement [text] he wrote:
For nearly six decades, Tibetans in the whole of Tibet known as Cholkha-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo) have had to live in a state of constant fear, intimidation and suspicion under Chinese repression…
In Tibet today, due to the Chinese government's numerous actions, driven as they are by a lack of foresight, the natural environment has been severely damaged. And, as a result of their policy of population transfer the non-Tibetan population has increased many times, reducing native Tibetans to an insignificant minority in their own country. Moreover, the language, customs and traditions of Tibet, which reflect the true nature and identity of the Tibetan people are gradually fading away. As a consequence, Tibetans are increasingly being assimilated into the larger Chinese population. In Tibet, repression continues to increase with numerous, unimaginable and gross violations of human rights, denial of religious freedom and the politicisation of religious issues. All these take place as a result of the Chinese government's lack of respect for the Tibetan people. These are major obstacles the Chinese government deliberately puts in the way of its policy of unifying nationalities which discriminate between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. Therefore, I urge the Chinese government to bring an immediate halt to such policies.
China has occupied Tibet [BBC backgrounder] since 1950, and has remained significantly unchallenged in its rule since a failed 1959 uprising after which more than 125,000 Tibetans fled to surrounding countries.
The Chinese government has long faced criticism for financial neglect of the region, religious persecution, the destruction of Buddhist temples, and brutality towards Tibetan dissidents, though concerns eased somewhat after "Open Door" reforms were implemented in the 1980s under international pressure. Even with the marginal gains, rights groups still criticize the China for ongoing human rights violations [HRW materials] targeted at Tibetans, and many call for the total independence [advocacy website] of the currently "semi-autonomous" region. AP has more. CBC News has additional coverage.