BEIJING – China has so far sentenced 55 people for riots against Beijing's rule that broke out in Tibet in March, state media reported as representatives of the Dalai Lama were in China for another round of strained talks.
It was the only overall number given since the government began sentencing people for their roles in the riots that rocked Tibet's capital, Lhasa, on March 14. The figure was given by Baema Cewang, vice chairman of the Tibet regional government, the official Xinhua News Agency said late Tuesday.
China detained more than 1,000 people in the aftermath of the rioting that targeted Chinese shops and businesses and left 22 people dead, according to the Chinese government.
"Following the violence, police detained 1,317 people, of whom 1,115 were subsequently released," Xinhua said.
The rest were sent to trial, it said. Xinhua did not say what prison terms the 55 were given, what charges they were convicted of, whether they had lawyers or what had happened to the other 147 people who stood trial.
It was also unclear whether Wednesday's number included the 30 people, including six Buddhist monks, China convicted in April in a one-day trial in Lhasa and sentenced to terms from life to three years in prison.
Beijing says the protests were part of a violent campaign by Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his supporters to throw off Chinese rule in Tibet and sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August.
The Dalai Lama has denied involvement in violent acts and says he wants only greater autonomy for the remote mountain region.
Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before Communist troops invaded in 1950, while Beijing says the Himalayan region has been part of its territory for centuries.
The Dalai Lama said Monday on a visit to Japan that his efforts to engage China have failed to bring positive changes. He said he is unsure whether new talks between his envoys and Beijing over the fate of the Himalayan region will produce any breakthroughs.
Two representatives of the Dalai Lama were in China for planned talks, but neither side has said whether the talks had taken place.