April 1, 2008 / 10:09 AM / 10 years ago

Myanmar rebels send Tibet activists back to China

BANGKOK (Reuters) - An ethnic guerrilla group in northern Myanmar has caught two "key" Tibetan political activists and deported them to China on the orders of Beijing, a dissident news Web site said on Tuesday. The pair, on the run since a crackdown on Tibetan protests last month, escaped through Yunnan province to an area of Myanmar run by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the Kachin News Group (www.kachinnews.com) said.

However, Beijing passed on their details to the commanders of the KIO, which has signed a ceasefire deal with Myanmar’s ruling junta, and the two men, who were not named, were arrested in the border town of Laiza on Sunday, the report said.

“They were handed over to the Chinese authorities soon after their capture,” the report said, citing a KIO source.

China says 18 civilians died in riots in mid-March in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, that it says were instigated by the mountainous region’s exiled spirited leader, the Dalai Lama.

Representatives of the Dalai Lama, who has denied orchestrating the unrest, say the death toll is closer to 140.

Beijing says it has detained several hundred people in connection with the Lhasa unrest, but has not said how many others have been detained in anti-government protests that spread to other regions with large ethnic Tibetan populations.

Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Michael Battye and Sanjeev Miglani

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