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Tibetans also among riot victims
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Monks' disruption played up

The first group of overseas journalists to visit Lhasa after the March 14 riots yesterday reported extensively on a group of Buddhist monks who disrupted a media tour at the Jokhang Temple in the morning.

A group of 30 monks in crimson robes, mostly in their 20s, rushed suddenly toward the journalists as they were being taken into an inner sanctum of the temple.

The monks screamed that the recent riots had nothing to do with the Dalai Lama but did not provide any proof to back up their claims.

Some of their claims were contradictory. For example, they claimed to be eyewitnesses to casualties during the riots. But they also said they had been confined at the temple by local police for security reasons since March 11 when some monks began to hold protests.

The monks' one-sided claims were widely quoted and broadcast by the overseas journalists, who did not check their veracity.

Organizers of the media tour, including officials from the State Council Information Office, did not interrupt the interview, letting it continue for about 15 minutes, the same duration as other on-the-spot interviews on the itinerary.

The journalists, from 19 media organizations including the Associated Press, Financial Times and South China Morning Post, are on a three-day trip to Lhasa which ends today.

(China Daily March 28, 2008)

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