26 Dec 2008

59 arrested in Tibet

9:19 am on 26 December 2008

Chinese authorities in Tibet have arrested 59 people for spreading rumours and trying to stir up racial hatred and incite violence.

The people were accused of acting under the influence of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and of downloading "reactionary" songs for distribution within Tibet.

The country was rocked by anti-Chinese protests in March, which China blamed on the Dalai Lama, whom it brands a separatist. He has repeatedly denied the claims.

Police also swept through markets in Lhasa looking for people selling songs illegally downloaded from the Internet.

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing's rule.

Rights groups say hundreds remain in jail following the protests, where they are subjected to harsh treatment and even torture.