2769Report: 10 dead in Tibetan violence
- Mar 15, 2008http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080315/ap_on_re_as/china_tibet
Report: 10 dead in Tibetan violence
By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer 43 minutes ago
BEIJING - China locked down the Tibetan capital
Saturday after the largest and most violent protests
against its rule in the region in nearly two decades.
At least 10 people were killed when demonstrators
rampaged through Lhasa, dashing Beijing's plans for a
smooth run-up to August's Olympics.
Officials demanded protesters turn themselves in,
while baton-wielding police patrolled Lhasa's mostly
empty streets on Saturday. Fires still smoldered from
the Friday clashes, and residents were under curfew.
Reports of deaths, arrests and numbers of protesters
varied and could not be independently confirmed.
China's official Xinhua News Agency said 10 people
including two hotel employees and two shop owners
were burned to death, but that no foreigners were
hurt. The exiled Tibetan government in India said
about 100 were believed dead, citing unconfirmed
Buddhist monks led the protests, which began Monday on
the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against
Chinese rule. The violent turn comes two weeks before
China's Olympic celebrations kick into high gear with
the start of the torch relay, which passes through
Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympics
organizing committee, said the unrest would have no
negative impact on the Games or the relay.
"The hosting of the Beijing Games is the 100-year
dream for Chinese people and I think the Chinese
people, including our compatriots in Tibet, very much
look forward to hosting the Games," Sun said.
Already the U.S. and other governments have urged
China to show restraint toward the protesters, while
International Olympic Committee President Jacques
Rogge deferred, saying he didn't have details.
But a top official promised tough measures against
"We will deal harshly with these criminals in
accordance with the law," said Champa Phuntsok,
chairman of the Tibetan government.
"Beating, smashing, looting and burning we
absolutely condemn this sort of behavior. This plot is
doomed to failure," said Phuntsok, an ethnic Tibetan,
speaking on the sidelines of the National People's
Congress, China's annual legislative session.
Law enforcement authorities in Tibet were offering
leniency for demonstrators who surrender before
Tuesday. Otherwise, they will be "severely punished,"
according to a notice carried on official Web sites
and confirmed by prosecutors.
Phuntsok blamed the uprising on followers of the Dalai
Lama, who fled into exile in 1959 after the failed
uprising and is still Tibet's widely revered spiritual
From Dharamsala, India, the headquarters of the
Tibetan government-in-exile, the Dalai Lama appealed
to China not to use force, saying he was "deeply
concerned," and urged Tibetans "not to resort to
It is extremely difficult to get independent
verification of events in Tibet since China maintains
rigid control over the area. Foreigners need special
travel permits, and journalists are rarely granted
access except under highly controlled circumstances.
But footage and photos sent from Lhasa showed plumes
of smoke billowing from buildings and small shops
scattered across several parts of the city. Fire
trucks moved through mainly empty streets after dark.
Earlier, eyewitness accounts and photos posted on the
Internet portrayed chaos in Lhasa on Friday, with
crowds hurling rocks at security forces, hotels and
restaurants. The U.S. Embassy said Americans had
The violence came on the fifth day of what had been
mostly peaceful protests against China's often harsh
57-year rule over Tibet. After police tried to stop
monks from protesting in central Lhasa, ordinary
Tibetans vented anger on Chinese, hurling stones and
torching shops and cars.
"The protesters yesterday went from attacking Chinese
police to attacking innocent people very, very
quickly," said a blog entry by a group of Westerners
staying in a hotel in central Lhasa near the riot.
"Many Tibetans were also caught in the crossfire."
Video footage on the web site showed Tibetan looking
men attacking a motorcyclist, hitting him with rocks
and pushing him over.
On Saturday, Xinhua said Lhasa had "reverted to calm."
"There was not much traffic on the road," the Xinhua
report said. "Burned cars, motorcycles and bicycles
remained scattered on the main streets, and the air is
tinged with smoke."
Some shops were closed but government staff were
required to work, said a woman who answered the
telephone at the Lhasa Hotel.
"There's no conflict today. The streets look pretty
quiet," said the woman who refused to give her name
for fear of retribution.
Tourists reached by phone or who arrived Saturday in
Nepal described soldiers standing in lines sealing off
streets where the rioting occurred. Armored vehicles
and trucks ferrying soldiers drove the streets.
"Last night I saw 100 trucks of soldiers driving into
the city. This morning I saw another 40 trucks of
soldiers," said Plooij Frans, a Dutch tourist who left
Lhasa Saturday by plane and arrived in Nepal's
capital, Katmandu. "Every corner there were tanks, it
would have been impossible to hold any protest today."
Government workers said they have been prevented from
leaving their buildings. "We've been here since
yesterday. No one has been allowed to leave or come
in," said a woman who works for Lhasa's Work Safety
Bureau, located near the Potala Palace, the former
residence of the Dalai Lama.
The protests reverberated in and out of mainland
In the town of Xiahe in Gansu province, where hundreds
of Tibetans marched Friday, clashes were reported
Saturday between monks and security forces. About
three dozen riot troops could be seen assembled in a
town square equipped with batons and shields, although
it wasn't clear if fighting had ended.
In Australia, pro-Tibet protesters clashed with police
Saturday outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney,
police said. Four demonstrators were arrested, said a
police spokesman, who declined to give his name in
line with departmental policy. Around 70 people took
part in the protest.
Dozens of Tibetan exiles in northern India launched a
new march to Tibet on Saturday, days after more than
100 other exiles were arrested by Indian authorities
during a similar rally.
The arrests occurred Thursday, after Indian officials
fearing the march would embarrass China banned the
protesters from leaving the Kangra district that
On Saturday, the latest marchers crossed the district
boundary without event, even as a few police marched
Over the centuries, Tibet was at times part of China's
dynastic empires. Communist forces invaded the region
in 1950, to reclaim the Himalayan region and seize the
commanding heights overlooking rival India.
While activist groups and Western governments have
said that China has not lived up to its promises of
improving its human rights record for the Summer
Games, the IOC has steadfastly refused to take a
stand, saying the organization is not a political
"It is not our job," Rogge, the IOC president, told
reporters while visiting Puerto Rico. "We are not an
Instead he said that he would issue a "reassuring
message" Monday on Beijing's polluted air, which has
been a concern for athletes.
Associated Press writers Anita Chang in Beijing, Binaj
Gurubacharya in Katmandu, Nepal, Ashwini Bhatia in
Dehra, India, and contributed to this story.
On the Net:
International Campaign for Tibet:
Chinese official news agency: http://www.xinhuanet.com