TIBET PROTESTS: Tibet's exiled spiritual leader says there should be an investigation into the recent violence in Tibet, and he accused China of committing what he called "cultural genocide" in his homeland. The Dalai Lama told reporters at his base of Dharmasala in northern India today (Sunday) that the international community should find out what is happening in Tibet. However, he said Beijing should be allowed to host this year's Olympics. Violent protests, meanwhile, were reported today in the Chinese province of Sichuan, with clashes between police and Tibetan protesters. Tibet's government-in-exile said today it has confirmed the deaths of 80 people in clashes Friday with Chinese authorities in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. A spokesman told reporters in northern India today that another 72 people were injured -- in the most violent challenge to Chinese rule since 1989. Chinese authorities have put the death toll from Friday's violence at 10.
Hundreds of Chinese police and soldiers are patrolling the Tibetan capital to prevent further unrest. Lhasa was quiet but tense today -- two days after Tibetans torched buildings and stoned police. But there was a protest march in Dharmasala.
CHINA POL: China's parliament reelected Wen Jiabao as prime
minister today (Sunday), completing selection of the country's top leadership. His selection completes China's top leadership line-up for the next five years. On Saturday, parliament re-elected Communist Party chief Hu Jintao to serve as president for another five-year term. The nearly three thousand deputies of the National People's Congress voted almost unanimously to re-elect Mr. Hu. The parliament also elected Xi Jinping as vice president and Wu Bangguo as chairman of the 11th National People's Congress Standing Committee.
IRAN ELECTIONS: Partial results in Iran's parliamentary elections indicate the country's conservatives have won a large share of seats in parliament. Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi said (Saturday) conservative candidates have won more than 71 percent of the seats. The European Union today (Sunday) expressed concern about the elections, saying they were neither free nor fair. It said Iran's election procedures fell below international standards and did not allow for a truly competitive ballot. The United States said the election was rigged because voters were not able to cast ballots for a full range of candidates.
PAKISTAN BLAST: Pakistani police say investigators are probing a
bomb blast at a restaurant in the capital of Islamabad Saturday that killed a Turkish woman and wounded several other people. The (Luna Caprese) Italian restaurant is popular with foreigners, journalists and diplomats. Police say the woman killed worked for a non-governmental agency. The blast wounded about 12 other people, including at least eight foreigners. A U.S. embassy spokeswoman (Kay Mayfield) said several U.S. embassy personnel are among those injured. A police official said the explosion left a crater and was caused by a bomb planted in a garden at the back of the restaurant.
US - MIDEAST: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is heading today (Sunday) to the Middle East for visits to Oman, Saudia Arabia, Israel, the West Bank, and Turkey. U.S officials say Mr. Cheney's talks will cover Iraq, the situations in Lebanon and Syria, Iran's rising influnce in the region, violence in Gaza, and soaring gasoline prices in the United States. He is expected to encourage Saudi Arabia to step up diplomatic ties with Iraq. Cheney also is expected to encourage Israel and the Palestinians to move forward with a peace deal.
WAR PROTESTS: Thousands of anti-war protesters marched in the streets of (the U.S. city of) Los Angeles Saturday ahead of the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, March 20th. Demonstrators carried coffins draped in American flags as speakers demanded U.S. troops return home. A member of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (Sharaf Mowjood) says the American troop presence in Iraq is making things worse for the country, and distracting from domestic problems. Other U.S. cities hosted similar anti-war demonstrations Saturday. More events are scheduled in San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C., on March 19th. In London Saturday, anti-war organizers say about 40-thousand protesters gathered in the streets to demand that British troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan At least one thousand protesters marched in Glasgow, Scotland.
THAILAND - BURMA: Thailand's new prime minister has praised
Burma as a peaceful and orderly country with a military leader who is a good Buddhist. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said in his weekly broadcast address (Sunday) that the general view of Burma has always been one-sided, but people should look at both sides of the coin. He described Burma's ruler, General Than Shwe, as a good Buddhist who meditates and prays every day. Many Western nations, including the United States and the European Union, have imposed economic and political sanctions against Burma for its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically-elected government under pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But Thailand and many other Southeast Asian nations are less critical and encourage investments in Burma.
Listen to our audio files for details in Lao.