New Tibet Protests Reported as Diplomats Wrap up Chinese Government Trip

Joe McDonald of Associated Press reports:

A new protest was reported Saturday in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa as diplomats wrapped up a trip organized by Beijing in an effort to blunt criticism of its crackdown on unrest in the region.

The protest began at Lhasa’s Ramoche monastery and grew to involve “a lot of people,” said Kate Saunders of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet. Citing witnesses in the city, she said there were “some reports of fighting,” but she had no other information. Ramoche was where earlier protests started on March 14 that led to the crackdown.

People also protested at the Jokhang Temple, a major Buddhist site in Lhasa, the government-in-exile of the Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, said on its Web site. It gave no other details.

The reports came as a 15-member group of diplomats from the United States, Japan and European governments returned to Beijing after a tightly controlled two-day visit to Lhasa.

Read more about the diplomats’ visit from the Press Trust of India. Reuters is also reporting that sections of Lhasa have been sealed off today by security forces.

The Washington Post has a few more details about the reported protests and security clampdown:

The incident occurred as a 15-member delegation of foreign diplomats was leaving after a tightly scripted two-day tour arranged by the Chinese government to show that the city was back under control. The diplomats, including officials from the U.S., Japanese and Australian embassies, apparently did not witness it.

Although details were sketchy, reports indicated that armed police began massing shortly before 2 p.m. to check the identity papers of people in the area where the March 14 riot started, and Tibetans began running away rather than risk arrest. Security forces surrounded residential areas near the Ramoche and Jokhang temples while several hundred Tibetans staged a rally, Radio Free Asia reported, citing unnamed witnesses in Lhasa.


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