Protests in Lhasa Turn Violent, Deaths Reported (Updated)

UPDATE (March 14): Ongoing protests in Lhasa have turned violent, according to AP. The Christian Science Monitor sums up various news accounts of events there, The Times also has a detailed account, while the BBC reports that at least two people have been killed. The Telegraph also reports:

Reports coming out of the capital Lhasa told of clashes with the security forces which led to shots being fired and numerous injuries, including to policemen attacked by the crowd.

Witnesses said police also fired tear gas to break up the protests.

The reports of shots being fired were confirmed by the American embassy in Beijing, which said it had been informed by tourists in the city.

Tibetans were seen carrying away the injured. A local hospital said at least 12 people had been wounded.

Monks from Labrang Tashikyil Monastery in Gansu Province are also staging mass demonstrations, carrying the banned Tibetan flag, according to a report from the Tibetan exile group Phayul:

The number later swelled up to few thousands when general public continued to join the procession of monks and the protest became more intensive.

The source said police started to fire live ammunitions in the air and started to beat the demonstrators when the procession reached the Sangchu County Public Security Bureau headquarter.

“Public security and armed police began firing shots later as it (protest) became very
intensive. Whether it caused casualties is unclear,” the source said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has just made a comment at a routine press conference, with a spokesman saying the protests are, “a deliberate political plot of the Dalai Lama group to cause social unrest, separate Tibet from China, and wreck the stable, harmonious and normal life of the Tibetan people.”

Meanwhile, the US government is weighing in with Ambassador Clark Randt urging senior officials to “urge restraint” and “not resort to the use of force,” in dealing with protesters, according to Reuters.

The New York Times has posted a slideshow of protests in Lhasa, Gansu Province, and Kathmandu, where ethnic Tibetans are also taking to the streets.

Lhasa protests

[Image: Unrest in the center of Lhasa, via the New York Times]

France24 has also posted a series of photos from Lhasa.

YouTube has footage of pro-Tibet protests and police action, apparently filmed in Kathmandu, Nepal and Dharamsala and New Delhi, India:

Also, a CNN report on the Lhasa unrest from this morning:

Chinese bloggers in Lhasa have written posts which corroborate the news coming out of Lhasa. See here, here, here and here (in Chinese).

BBC has just posted a few eyewitness accounts from Lhasa.

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The Christian Science Monitor is one of the only Western news agencies to have a reporter on
the ground in Lhasa as Tibetans stage the largest protests in the region since the 1980s:

A young Tibetan woman was worried about her mother at their home near Sera monastery, one of the three most famous in Tibet. Her mother, talking into a cellphone from the roof of their building, told her about the mayhem of police and protesters below. She said the monks were demanding the release of fellow monks, arrested a day earlier during protests at two sites: the road from Drepung Monastery to Potala Palace, and Barkhor Square downtown.

The protest outside Sera monastery reportedly began at 3 p.m., the time each day when Sera monks challenge each other to passionate debates about Buddhism, using martial arts techniques, such as swinging prayer beads and slapping hands, to shock pupils into enlightenment.

Many Tibetans, perhaps the most devout Buddhists in Asia, said they feared monks would be beaten and jailed for years. They said police are stepping up intimidation and making it harder for Tibetans to get permission to become monks, study their own language, or gain passports to travel.

Read also Why Tibetan monks are protesting now from the CSM, and China plays down protests in Tibetan monasteries from The Guardian. More protests are expected, despite the security clampdown, according to the Financial Times.

Also watch footage of pro-Tibet protests in India via Al Jazeera:

See also a previous CDT post with footage from Lhasa by tourists traveling there.

March 13, 2008 9:14 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Politics