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Governor denies use of lethal force in Lhasa riot
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"These people will not go unpunished by law in any country," said Qiangba. "For those who committed minor offenses and showed repentance, we will educate them; for those who initiated and committed serious crimes in the riot, they will be sternly punished in accordance with the law."

Indignation over Dalai's distortion of what happened

He also criticized the Dalai Lama's followers' version of events, which had been reported by some Western media. He said that they were confusing right and wrong while calling the riot a "peaceful demonstration" and slandering efforts of local law enforcement in keeping order as a "crackdown on the peaceful demonstration."

"I'm indignant to hear that the Dalai clique and some Westerners call the severe violence a 'peaceful demonstration'. It's even more ridiculous that those people distort the efforts of our law enforcement officials in keeping people safe and maintaining social order as a 'crackdown on the peaceful demonstration'," he said.

Criticizing Western coverage, Qiangba Puncog said: "I would like to know whether there is any government preaching democracy and advocating the rule of law that could tolerate such violence."

Qiangba said that foreign nationals and foreign companies were neither required to leave Tibet nor being told to remain. But, he said, "it is not the right time for them to come to Tibet, due to safety concerns."

The regional foreign affairs office had suspended granting permits for foreigners to travel to Tibet. No foreigner had been harmed since Friday's riot. "They have been well protected," said Ju Jianhua, the director of the regional foreign affairs office.

For those foreigners who wished to leave, the office would coordinate civil aviation, railway and highway departments on their behalf, Ju said.

The main streets of the ravaged plateau city have been cleared up, power supplies have resumed throughout Lhasa, and shops, government agencies and schools reopened on Monday, officials said.

"The situation in Lhasa is returning to normal and our work has been proven effective," Qiangba said. The separatists' intention to destabilize Tibet would never win the hearts and minds of Tibetans and was therefore doomed to failure, he said.

"I believe," he said, "the autonomous regional government, under the leadership of the central government, is completely capable of safeguarding social stability and the dignity of law, and make sure to protect the safety and interests of all people in Tibet."

(Xinhua News Agency, March 18, 2008)

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