[permaculture] Thousands of Buddhist monks and other Tibetans clashed with the riot police in a second Chinese city on Saturday

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Sun Mar 16 10:08:39 EDT 2008

March 16, 2008 NYTimes
Tibetans Clash With Chinese Police in Second City

BEIJING - Thousands of Buddhist monks and other Tibetans clashed with
the riot police in a second Chinese city on Saturday, while the
authorities said they had regained control of the Tibetan capital,
Lhasa, a day after a rampaging mob ransacked shops and set fire to
cars and storefronts in a deadly riot.

Conflicting reports emerged about the violence in Lhasa on Friday.
The Chinese authorities denied that they had fired on protesters
there, but Tibetan leaders in India told news agencies on Saturday
that they had confirmed that 30 Tibetans had died and that they had
unconfirmed reports that put the number at more than 100.

Demonstrations erupted for the second consecutive day in the city of
Xiahe in Gansu Province, where an estimated 4,000 Tibetans gathered
near the Labrang Monastery. Local monks had held a smaller protest on
Friday, but the confrontation escalated Saturday afternoon, according
to witnesses and Tibetans in India who spoke with protesters by

Residents in Xiahe, reached by telephone, heard loud noises similar
to gunshots or explosions. A waitress described the scene as "chaos"
and said many injured people had been sent to a local hospital. Large
numbers of military police and security officers fired tear gas while
Tibetans hurled rocks, according to the Tibetans in India.

"Their slogans were, 'The Dalai Lama must return to Tibet' and
'Tibetans need to have human rights in Tibet,' " said Jamyang, a
Tibetan in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government in
exile, who spoke to protesters. By Sunday morning, unconfirmed
reports from pro-Tibet groups described new protests in other Tibetan
areas of Gansu Province, and possibly elsewhere in Tibet.

The violence in Lhasa and Xiahe has created a major political and
public relations challenge for the ruling Communist Party as Beijing
prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August. The
demonstrations are the largest in Tibet since 1989, when Chinese
troops used lethal force to crush an uprising by thousands of Tibetan

China's response to the week's demonstrations is being watched
carefully by the outside world. The European Union and the United
States have both called on China to act with restraint. The White
House called on China to "respect Tibetan culture" and issued a
renewed call for dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, the
exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge,
rejected calls for a boycott of the Games to protest the crackdown.

"We believe that the boycott doesn't solve anything," he said
Saturday on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, The Associated Press
reported. "On the contrary. It is penalizing innocent athletes and it
is stopping the organization from something that definitely is
worthwhile organizing."

The tumult also undercuts a theme regularly promoted by China's
propaganda officials, that Tibetans are a happy minority group,
smoothly integrated into the country's broader ethnic fabric.

"What we see right now, what is happening in Tibet, blows the whole
propaganda strategy in Tibet wide open," said Lhadon Tethong, an
official with the New York-based advocacy group Students for a Free

On Saturday the Chinese authorities defended their response to the
violence in Lhasa. "We fired no gunshots," said Qiangba Puncog,
chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, according to
state media.

But Tibetan advocacy groups and witnesses in Lhasa offered
contradictory accounts. The Tibetan government in exile said at least
30 Tibetans had died in the protests, according to Agence
France-Presse. Witnesses told Radio Free Asia, the nonprofit news
agency financed by the United States government, that numerous
Tibetans were dead. A 13-year-old Tibetan, reached by telephone, said
he had watched the violence from his apartment and saw four or five
Tibetans fall to the ground after military police officers fired upon

Foreign journalists are being restricted from traveling to Lhasa, and
the precise death toll remains unknown. State media reported 10
deaths and characterized most of them as shopkeepers. The
government's official news agency, Xinhua, reported that the victims
had been "burned to death."

The demonstrations in Lhasa began Monday and continued through
Wednesday as peaceful protests by Buddhist monks from three different
monasteries. Some monks protested religious restrictions while others
demanded an end to Chinese rule and even waved the Tibetan flag. The
police arrested scores of monks and then reportedly prevented monks
from leaving the three monasteries.

Initially, the protests were largely ignored in the Chinese news
media, which were providing blanket coverage of the annual meeting of
the National People's Congress, the Communist Party-controlled
national legislature.

But with growing international concern, and reports that Chinese
security forces had attacked monks, Xinhua issued a short statement
blaming rioters for the violence. By Saturday morning, China's state
television network, CCTV, was broadcasting video of Tibetans burning
buildings as anchors read directly from a Xinhua report that blamed
the Dalai Lama for the violence. By Saturday night, Xinhua had
released a vivid, on-the-scene report that described the violence as
"planned sabotage."

Chinese officials demanded the surrender of the "lawbreakers" in
Lhasa and offered leniency to people who turned themselves into the
authorities by midnight Monday. Senior officials described the unrest
as "sabotage" orchestrated by the Dalai Lama and credited the
military police for rescuing 580 people from banks, schools and
hospitals that were set afire by rioters.

Gen. Yang Deqing of the People's Liberation Army said Chinese
soldiers would not be deployed and the protests were being handled by
local police officers and the country's paramilitary force, the
People's Armed Police.

"We'll let the police and the military police handle the
disturbance," General Yang said at the National People's Congress,
where he was a delegate. "We won't be involved."

Witnesses in Lhasa on Saturday reported seeing large numbers of
military police officers and other officers in riot gear, as well as
armored vehicles. Other witnesses reached by telephone described the
periodic sound of gunshots. Armed military police officers were
reportedly searching neighborhood by neighborhood.

Several residents, reached by telephone, said that an uneasy calm had
settled over the city. Tibetans living in the suburbs said officers
were blocking people from entering the city center. Local television
broadcast instructions. Power and telephone service, suspended in
some neighborhoods on Friday, was being restored on Saturday. Traffic
was light on city streets as most shops were closed.

It is still uncertain what set off Friday's unrest. Tibetan advocates
say ordinary Tibetans began rioting after military police officers
attacked monks trying to protest outside a monastery in the center of
the city.

The extent of the violence was evident in photographs and video shown
on the Internet: fires raging from rooftops and from charred
vehicles, shattered storefronts and huge crowds trolling city streets.

News agencies reported that foreign tourists were being prohibited
from entering Tibet. The United States Embassy in Beijing issued a
new warning on Saturday advising American citizens about danger in
Lhasa and other regions.

Huang Yuanxi and Zhang Jing contributed research from Beijing.

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