HARVARD STUDENT FACES DISCIPLINE FOR SHOUTING AT CHINESE PREMIER


2003-12-22
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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts�Harvard undergraduate Megan Howard faces disciplinary action for shouting pro-Tibetan slogans during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao�s speech at the university this month, RFA's Tibetan service reports.

"I shouted �Tibet is for the Tibetan people. We will never stop fighting. I am the voice for those in Tibet who cannot speak,�� Howard said in an interview. After her outburst�which interrupted Wen�s Dec. 11 remarks and drew a rebuke from university president Lawrence Summers�Howard was told to sit down.

�Eventually I left with the police,� said Howard, who is in her fourth and final year at Harvard and visited Tibet in 1999. She was later notified that she is to appear before a disciplinary panel for her actions. �I think it probably won�t be anything serious.�

"I think Tibetan culture is extremely valuable, and it is extremely important for the Tibetans to preserve it. So it came from my gratitude and faith in Buddhism," she said.

Howard visited Tibet in August 1999 when she was 16 years old. �It's the most beautiful place in the world. But there are so many [Han] Chinese, especially in Lhasa." She said she had received many phone calls and e-mails from Tibetans worldwide who thanked her for speaking up on their behalf.

Wen spoke at Harvard on the final leg of his four-day official visit to the United States, calling for mutual respect among different cultures.

"The civilizations of different nations are all fruits of human wisdom and contribution to human progress,� he said. "Conflicts triggered by ignorance or prejudice are sometimes more dreadful than those caused by contradictory interests�We propose to seek common ground in the spirit of equality and tolerance, and carry on extensive inter-civilization dialogue and closer cultural exchanges."

Human rights groups and Western observers routinely criticize Beijing for its heavy-handed treatment of Tibetans in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and elsewhere in western China.#####

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