BEIJING, Nov. 26, 2008 -- China has set free more than 1,000 rioters involved in the March 14 riot that engulfed Tibet's capital Lhasa, according to a senior Chinese official.
"Most of the released rioters had turned themselves in right after the riot," Zhu Weiqun, deputy head of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said in a recent interview with BBC. The content of the interview can be seen on the website of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Zhu said there exist no "suppression" in Tibet. the suspects had enjoyed all legitimate rights based on Chinese law.
Local court sent interpreters to help all rioters in trial and ethnic background and religious beliefs were not considered when handing down sentences, he said.
With the placard of "non-violence" in his hand, the Dalai Lama on the other hand turned a blind eye to violent activities, the official said.
"Many people died in the March 14 Lhasa riot, and he called it a peaceful protest...is it the so-called non-violence? " Zhu questioned.
He held that most Tibetans living abroad were against violence and hoped for a better living environment and closer ties with Tibet.
"The government sponsors nearly 3,000 Tibetans abroad to visit their hometown each year... and they would feel worried about their safety if there's violence in Tibet." he said.
On March 14, groups of rioters launched widespread attacks against people and property in Lhasa, in which 18 innocent civilians and one police officer died and hundreds civilians and police were injured.
Rioters also torched houses, vehicles and looted shops. Direct economic loss stood at 320 million yuan (about 47 million U.S. dollars).