BEIJING – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao denounced supporters of the Dalai Lama as separatists and instigators of violent anti-Chinese riots in Tibet's capital, taking a hard stance Tuesday as a deadline for protesters to turn themselves in passed without apparent surrenders.
Wen's remarks were the highest-level response to last week's rampage in Lhasa, which the government has said killed 16 people and injured dozens.
"There is ample fact — and we also have plenty of evidence — proving that this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique," Wen told reporters at a news conference held at the end of China's national legislative meeting but did not give any details.
"This has all the more revealed that the consistent claims made by the Dalai clique that they pursue not independence but peaceful dialogue are nothing but lies," he said. "Their hypocritical lies cannot cover the unclad facts."
He also dismissed claims by the exiled Dalai Lama that there was "cultural genocide" taking place in his homeland.
The hardline stance taken by the normally mild-manner Wen underscored the communist leadership's determination to regain control over the region and ensure a smooth run up to this summer's Beijing Olympics.