Monks Foil Beijing's Press Show

LHASA, China -- A group of monks shouting that there was no religious freedom disrupted an orchestrated visit for foreign reporters to Tibet's capital Thursday, an embarrassment for the Chinese government trying to show that Lhasa was calm after recent violence.

The government had arranged the trip for the reporters to show how peaceful Lhasa was after the deadly riots shattered China's plans for a peaceful run-up to the Beijing Summer Olympics.

The outburst by a group of 30 monks in red robes came as the journalists, including an Associated Press reporter, were being shown around the Jokhang Temple -- one of Tibet's holiest shrines -- by government handlers.

"Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!" yelled one young Buddhist monk, who then started to cry.

They also said their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had nothing to do with the anti-government riots by Tibetans in Lhasa, including arson, looting and attacks on ethnic Han Chinese.

The government has said the March 14 riots were masterminded by "the Dalai clique," Beijing's term for the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

Government handlers shouted for the journalists to leave and tried to pull them away during the protest.

"They want us to crush the Dalai Lama and that is not right," one monk said during the 15-minute outburst.

"This had nothing to do with the Dalai Lama," said another, referring to the March 14 riots.