CHICAGO — About 500 residents and students, mainly from Chicago’s Chinese American community protested April 24 in Federal Plaza against what they call “lies and distortions” being broadcast by CNN in its coverage of Chinese government action against protests in Tibet. Chinese communities have held similar protests across the US and internationally in the last few days.

Amid US and Chinese flags and colorful Beijing Olympic mascots, Liu Hong, president of the Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago condemned the way the media was poisoning public opinion by distorting actions by the Chinese government, especially around the March 14 violence in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

Protesters maintained it was thugs associated with the Dalai Lama who provoked the violence, primarily against civilians and looted and burned buildings. The Chinese government had a right to take action, they said. CNN and other western corporate media are portraying it as an attack by Chinese authorities. Twenty-two people died in the violence.

“Shame on you CNN! We want our American friends to know that Tibet has been a part of China for over 700 years, said Hong. “The March 14 demonstration by the Dalai Lama’s supporters was not a peaceful protest. It was directed against civilians. Any government would take action to stop the violence,” she said.

Liu Hong said CNN and those trying to halt the Olympic Torch relay were trying to whip up hatred against China hoping to provoke a boycott of the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. This goes against the principals of the Olympics, which stand for peace, friendship, and understanding of nations through sports, said Hong.

CNN reporter Jack Cafferty came under particular criticism for his remark April 9 when he said the Chinese were “the same goons and thugs they’ve always been.” A University of Illinois at Chicago student blasted CNN and Cafferty for this statement. China is imperfect, he said. “But the Olympics show that China is developing and changing. It’s an opportunity to show the world it’s achievements. We won’t allow these guys to destroy the Olympics.”

Protesters said scenes of Indian and Nepalese authorities attacking protestors supporting the Dalai Lama, were mixed in to make it appear as if it were really the Chinese government who were attacking protestors.

Many in the crowd felt it was important for people to get more information about the history of Tibet, beginning with its merger into China during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and the despotic nature of the religious rule of the lamas and nobles before the reforms carried out beginning in 1959 by the socialist oriented Chinese government. Before that time, more than 90% of the Tibetan population was serfs, who lived in extreme poverty and were subject to savage and cruel punishments by the reactionary landowners. The monasteries overseen by the lamas owned most of the land. As a result of this history and many improvements in the life of the people, the current Dalai Lama doesn’t have a mass base of support in Tibet.

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