By Jason Loftus
|Mar 30, 2008|
TORONTO—A rally that was billed as promoting "anti-violence" turned hostile on Saturday as flag-waving Chinese denounced Tibetans who they blamed for the recent turmoil in Tibet in which 100 are said to have died.
Close to 1000 Chinese were in Toronto's Dundas Square for the afternoon event, many of them students.
"Dalai Lama die there!" some Chinese shouted at a group of Tibetans who had gathered across the street from the square to protest. "Leave Canada!" others urged.
Tibetans say the Chinese rally, which began orderly, was designed to incite hate against them.
The event was promoted in Chinese-language press as a rally to tell the "truth" about Tibet and "safeguard the reunification of the motherland."
Several major Chinese-language media outlets in Canada have parroted the Chinese communist regime's line on Tibet, blaming the turmoil on the Dalai Lama and his followers and fanning a nationalist animosity toward Tibetans. ( Read more )
The rally began with a parade of speeches repeating the Chinese regime's line on Tibet: that it has long been part of China, that the Chinese government spent millions trying to help the Tibetan people, and that Tibetan monks and youths led violent protests in Lhasa recently that caused death and suffering of Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group in China.
The speeches were interspersed with patriotic Chinese songs. No mention was made of police violence used to quash the protests, nor of the Tibetan grievances that experts say sparked the initially peaceful protests in Lhasa.
China has helped Tibetans "protect, spread, and develop" their culture, said one speaker.
An organizer who spoke in English claimed the Chinese regime had "helped Tibetan people to improve human rights" by making them literate.
"People were just blind faith to believe in their religion," he said. "They were controlled."
The rally became dramatic when a Tibetan refugee took to the stage waving a Tibetan flag. He was seized by a group of Chinese who dragged him away before police intervened to separate them.
After the incident, the man spoke with The Epoch Times. In tears, he described the suffering of Tibetans under communist rule, explaining that he left Tibet 10 years ago and came to Canada only recently. The man said Toronto Mayor David Miller should reconsider a planned trip to China next month amid the ongoing repression in Tibet by the communist regime.
Angry Chinese turned on the Tibetan protesters, hollering "Dalai Lama die there!" "Dalai Lama lies!" "Liars, liars!" and "Leave Canada!"
They also sang communist party songs.
Police detained one man after he charged across a busy street to where the Tibetans were protesting, waving a large Chinese flag. He was identified as University of Toronto student Yang Shao by other students in the square.
Police at Toronto's 52 Division said the man had been released and no charges had been laid.
A spokesperson for the city office that oversees the Dundas Square said earlier this week that he didn't believe the group organizing Saturday's event would be spreading hate.
Patrick Carnegie, the square's manager of programming and events, said there were rules that governed how the square is to be used, including not belittling any identifiable group and conveying messages only in a positive way.
Any group can use the space "as long as they do so in a safe manner that is in accordance to the bylaws," Mr. Carnegie said.
According to Mr. Carnegie, the event had been approved as a "Love China Concert." When The Epoch Times pointed out that even English-language flyers for the event suggested the rally tended to lay blame for the violence on the Tibetans, he said the group was expected to follow the rules.
Anna Yang and Matthew Little contributed to this story.