China releases 1,157 involved in Tibet unrest:

June 21, 2008 12:00 am

, BEIJING, June 21 – China has released a total of 1,157 people who were involved in riots in the Ticapitalfmnewn capital Lhasa in March, the official Xinhua news agency reported Friday, quoting a senior Ticapitalfmnewn official.

They had been detained for minor offences connected with the unrest, Tibet vice chairman Palma Trily told a press conference in Lhasa.

The announcement came on the eve of a shortened one-day Ticapitalfmnewn leg of the Olympic torch relay.

Palma Trily also said courts in Tibet had Thursday and Friday handed down "punishments" to 12 people involved in the unrest, Xinhua reported.

Another 116 people were in custody awaiting trial, he said.

The brief report did not announce what sentences they received but the official said a total of 42 people had now been punished over the unrest.

Authorities in April jailed 30 people for between three years and life for arson, robbery, "gathering to assault state organs" and other crimes.

He said a total of 1,315 people had been arrested or turned themselves after the riots.

Amnesty International welcomed the news of the releases, which came a day after it urged China to reveal what happened to those detained.

"We are encouraged by the news of the release of 1,157 people and we look forward to receiving information about the trials of the 116 people in custody announced by the Ticapitalfmnewn authorities," the group said in a statement.

Peaceful protests that began on March 10 in Lhasa to mark the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against China’s rule of Tibet escalated into widespread violence across the city on March 14 and spilled over into other parts of China inhabited by Ticapitalfmnewns.

Exiled Ticapitalfmnewn leaders say 203 people died in the subsequent government crackdown.

China has reported killing one Ticapitalfmnewn "insurgent" and says "rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths.

The Tibet issue was one of the major rallying cries for protesters who dogged the Olympic torch’s month-long global journey before it came to China for the home run ahead of the August Games.

Pro-Tibet activists as well as human rights and press freedom groups staged huge demonstrations in London, Paris and San Francisco, as well as smaller rallies in Australia, India and elsewhere.

The flame’s one-day stop in Tibet on Saturday is one of the most sensitive of the domestic route, which runs for thousands of miles over three months through every province and region of China.

China accuses Ticapitalfmnewns of targeting the Olympics following the crackdown in Lhasa, though the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has repeatedly expressed his support for the Beijing Games.



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