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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

Dalai-backed violence scars Lhasa 2008-03-15 08:43:56  

    by Xinhua writers Lou Chen, Yi Ling     

    LHASA, March 15 (Xinhua) --

The outbreak of violence died down in Lhasa Friday night, after a tumultuous day that saw windows smashed, shops robbed, mosque burnt down and reportedly many casualties.

    Witnesses said the unrest started around 1:10 p.m. on Friday, several people clashed with and stoned the local police around the Ramogia Monastery in downtown Lhasa.

    Rioters began gathering around 2 p.m. around the Ramogia Monastery, and set fire to shops along two main streets in the capital, and around Jokhang Temple, Ramogia Monastery and Chomsigkang Market. At least five blazing spots were reported and dense smoke was seen blanketing the area.

    A number of shops, banks and hotels were burnt, causing blackouts and interruption of communications in some areas. Shops close to the Jokhang Temple and Ramogia Monastery were shut down.

    A Tibetan government official told Xinhua that there had been enough evidence to prove that the sabotage in Lhasa was "organized, premeditated and masterminded" by the Dalai clique.

    The violence, involving beating, smashing, looting and burning, has disrupted the public order and jeopardized people's lives and property, the official said.

    Xinhua reporters in Lhasa saw many rioters were carrying backpacks filled with stones and bottles of inflammable liquids, some holding iron bars, wooden sticks and long knifes, a sign that the crowd came fully prepared and meant harm.

    The mobs assaulted passersby, sparing no women or children, witnesses said. They hit at things along their path, smashing windows, automatic teller machines and traffic lights. Several clothing shops, restaurants, and mobile phone stores were looted. Bikes, motorcycles and cars were burnt down.

    The vandals started burning the local Sifang Supermarket, Landun Shopping Mall and Wenzhou Mall around 3:00 p.m. Friday, causing more blazing spots. A Muslim mosque was also set on fire at around 8:30 p.m..

    There were injuries reported in the violence and the wounded were sent to the hospital. People were also seen burnt by the attackers. But death toll is not yet available.


    Sources told Xinhua that policemen were ordered not to use force against the attacker. But they were forced to use a limited amount of tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse the desperate crowds.

    Xinhua reporters learnt that many policemen on duty were badly injured.

    Police have not made any announcement of arrest, but an officer said the search for the vandals could be difficult as the mobs disguised themselves in plain clothes as ordinary citizens.

    Around midnight, fire-fighters and policemen were cleaning the burning wreckages discarded on the Beijing Middle Road, one of the main streets in downtown Lhasa.

    Police cordoned off a few downtown sections and are on close lookout for comeback of violence.

    The regional government took emergency measures to rescue residents under attack, reinforced protection for schools, hospitals and gas stations, and required the government agencies and businesses to ensure safety of their employees.

    Local government imposed traffic control on the main streets in Lhasa Friday night and it also informed the citizens of the sabotage through TV, calling for them to take precautions.


    A blogger who called himself Han Jingshan, a Lhasa resident, recalled the sabotage in a post titled Four-hour Personal Experience of Lhasa's Riots.

    The man drove a car onto the streets in the afternoon only to find flames with heavy smoke blanketing the area of the Ramogia Monastery and ambulances whistling by, according to the post.

China Gambles That Tibet Crackdown Won't Bring Olympic Boycott

By AUDRA ANG Associated Press Writer

Mar 15, 2008, 4:43 PM EDT


Soldiers on foot and in armored carriers swarmed Tibet's capital Saturday, 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.

The violence erupted just two weeks before China's Summer Olympic celebrations kick off with the start of the torch relay, which passes through Tibet. China is gambling that its crackdown will not draw an international outcry over human rights violations that could lead to boycotts of the Olympics.

The latest unrest began Monday on the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Tibet was effectively independent for decades before communist troops entered in 1950.

Initially, the protests were led by Buddhist monks demanding the release of other detained monks. Their demands spiraled to include cries for Tibet's independence and turned violent Friday when police tried to stop a group of protesting monks. Pent-up grievances against Chinese rule came to the fore, as Tibetans directed their anger against Chinese and their shops, hotels and other businesses.

It was the fiercest challenge to Beijing's authority in nearly two decades.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported at least 10 civilians were burned to death on Friday. The Dalai Lama's exiled Tibetan government in India said Chinese authorities killed at least 30 Tibetans and possibly as many as 100. The figures could not be independently verified.

In the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Saturday, police manned checkpoints and armored personnel carriers rattled on mostly empty streets as people stayed indoors under a curfew, witnesses said. The show of force imposed a tense quiet.

The Chinese government is hoping a successful Olympics will boost its popularity at home as well as its image abroad. But Beijing's hosting of the Olympics has already attracted scrutiny of China's human rights record and its pollution problems.

So far, international criticism of the crackdown in Tibet has been mild. The U.S. and European Union called for Chinese restraint without any threats of an Olympic boycott or other sanctions.

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