China cracks down in Tibet
BEIJING: If there was one thing China would have wanted to avoid in the Olympic year, it was memories of Tiananmen Square.
But those very images were reignited on the streets of Lhasa as Red Army tanks were rolled out to crush Tibetan protesters on Saturday. While the Chinese media claimed only 10 people had died in Friday’s violence, Tibetan activists said the toll could be anywhere between 30 and 100.
China’s governor in Tibet vowed to punish the “rioters” while a notice issued by the court and law enforcement authorities gave the protesters till Tuesday to surrender, in which case they would be treated with “leniency”.
Elsewhere in China, like the central province of Gansu where the Labrang Monastery is located, normally peaceful monks turned the steets into a sea of maroon. Similar protests, with the epicentre near Lhasa’s Potala Palace, were reported from areas with large Tibetan settlements.
The official tourist bureau told TOI that tourists to the Roof of the World had been forbidden to enter the city from Friday.
The protests began on Monday to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
China tightens grip on Tibet
BEIJING — Soldiers on foot and in armored carriers swarmed Tibet’s capital yesterday, enforcing a strict curfew a day after protesters burned shops and cars to vent their anger against Chinese rule. In another western city, police clashed with hundreds of Buddhist monks leading a sympathy demonstration.
Foreign tourists were asked to leave Tibet yesterday, and witnesses said Lhasa looked like a ghost city after a day of violent protests Friday. Protesters were given until tomorrow to surrender to authorities or face criminal action.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported at least 10 “innocent civilians” were burned to death Friday. The Dalai Lama’s exiled Tibetan government in India said Chinese authorities killed at least 30 Tibetans, including at least five by shooting, and as many as 100. The figures could not be independently verified. The Tibetan administration denied that the protesters came under fire.
Agence France-Presse reported that the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, would speak to the world today, but observers did not expect the Nobel Peace Prize winner to deviate from his appeals for a nonviolent solution to the future of Tibet.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday urged the Chinese government to “exercise restraint” in responding to protests in Tibet and called for the release of detained monks, Agence France-Presse reported.
Miss Rice said she was “deeply saddened” that Friday’s protests “resulted in the loss of lives” and expressed concern “that the violence appears to be continuing.”
“I also am concerned by reports of a sharply increased police and military presence in and around Lhasa,” she said.
She called on China to “release monks and others who have been detained solely for the peaceful expression of their views.”