China to compensate Tibet riot victims
Beijing, March 29, 2008
China offered to pay compensation to the families of the civilians it says died in violence in the Tibetan capital this month, as Beijing kept up an intense propaganda campaign in the wake of the unrest.
Pressure grew from abroad for China to respect human rights in its response to continuing pockets of unrest over the past two weeks in Tibet and neighbouring areas, with US President George W. Bush calling on Chinese leaders to talk to representatives of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
The rash of anti-Chinese protests, and China's response, have become a focus of global concern months before the Olympics. Beijing hopes the games that start in August will be a chance to showcase progress in the world's fourth biggest economy.
By the government's count, 18 civilians were killed during anti-Chinese violence in Lhasa on March 14, when demonstrators hurled rocks at police and burned and looted stores and homes.
Their families would each receive 200,000 yuan ($28,530), a notice from Tibet's regional government said. Anyone injured in the chaos that engulfed in Lhasa after
days of Buddhist monk-led demonstrations was entitled to free medical care, the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted it as saying.
"Measures are to be taken to help people repair their homes and shops damaged in the unrest or to build new ones," it said.
One police officer also died, state media say, but Xinhua did not mention compensation arrangements.
The Tibet government-in-exile, established when the Dalai Lama fled to India after an abortive uprising in 1959, has estimated that there have been 140 deaths in the violence.
Since the unrest, China has been on a propaganda offensive, attacking foreign news organisations for biased reporting, quoting Buddhist clergy condemning the riots, praising the authorities for exercising restraint and highlighting the material gains the ruling Communist Party has brought to Tibet.-Reuters