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Courts sentence 76 over last year's Lhasa rioting

COURTS in Tibet have so far passed sentence on 76 people involved in the March 14 riot last year in the capital city of Lhasa, a senior Tibetan official said.

Nyima Cering, vice chairman of the standing committee of the Tibet Regional People's Congress, revealed the figures at a press conference on Tuesday.

Lhasa was rocked by serious rioting two weeks before the traditional Tibetan New Year last year.

He said the riot seriously affected China's sovereignty. "Any responsible government will surely resort to necessary means to safeguard its constitution and sovereignty."

The government had maintained maximum restraint and did not use anti-personnel weapons in handling the incident, he added.

"Tibetan people are enjoying a good life now. There is no reason for them to forgo celebrating their traditional holiday this year," he said, in response to an underground campaign by some secessionists to boycott the festival to "mourn the dead of 2008."

There will be a week-long public holiday, starting on February 23, to celebrate the Tibetan New Year. "Everything is back on track. Religious events have remained normal," Cering said.

Non Gyal, a monk from the Johkang Temple, told the press conference: "I was neither taken into custody nor punished. My life and religious study have been normal."


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