Tibetan riots spread
Tibetan riots spread
By Benjamin Kang Lim and Chris Buckley 1 hour, 37
BEIJING (Reuters) - Rioting erupted in a province
neighboring Tibet on Sunday, two days after ugly
street protests by Tibetans against Chinese rule in
Lhasa that the contested region's government-in-exile
said had killed 80 people.
A police officer -- speaking even as the main
government building in Aba county, Sichuan province,
came under siege -- told Reuters that about 200
Tibetan protesters had hurled petrol bombs and burnt
down a police station.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said
in an e-mail that thousands of monks of the nearby
Amdo Ngaba Kirti monastery in Sichuan had raised the
banned Tibetan flag and shouted pro-independence
slogans after prayers on Sunday morning.
Chinese security forces stormed the monastery, fired
tear gas and prevented the monks from taking to the
streets, it said.
The report could not be independently confirmed.
Earlier, troops locked down Lhasa -- a remote city
high in the Himalayas barred to foreign journalists
without permission and now sealed off to tourists too
-- to prevent a repeat of last week's riots, the most
serious in nearly two decades.
The Dalai Lama said that there should be an
investigation into whether cultural genocide,
intentionally or not, was taking place in Tibet, and
said China was relying on force to achieve peace.
The convulsion of Tibetan anger at the Chinese
presence in the region came after days of peaceful
protests by monks and was a sharp blow to Beijing's
preparations for the Olympic Games in August, when
China wants to showcase prosperity and unity.
Tibet is one of several potential flashpoints for the
ruling Communist party at a time of heightened
attention on China.
The government is concerned about the effect of
inflation and wealth gaps on social stability after
years of breakneck economic growth, and this month it
said it had foiled two terrorist plots hatched by the
largely Muslim Uighur minority in the northwestern
region of Xinjiang, including an attempt to disrupt
The official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday that
many shops had reopened and cars were back on the
streets as calm returned to the city.
Residents contacted by telephone earlier said they
were too scared to leave their homes because of the
"We don't dare go out, not for anything. There's too
much trouble," said one businesswoman from the heart
of the city.
Official media said a "people's war" of security and
propaganda had been launched against support for the
Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists,
suggesting Beijing will not heed calls from around the
globe for a lenient response.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voiced
concern in a statement on Saturday that violence
appeared to be continuing, and she urged Beijing to
"release monks and others who have been detained
solely for the peaceful expression of their views."
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said China
should allow an independent U.N. investigation into
last week's events.
And India called for dialogue and non-violent means.
Home to the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, who fled over the
Himalayas into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising
that year, India treads carefully with its giant
neighbor to expand diplomatic and trade ties after
decades of rivalry, including a brief war in 1962.
80 DEAD, OR 10?
A woman in contact with a businessman in Lhasa said
the streets were teeming with armed police in riot
gear on Sunday after word of renewed clashes
overnight, when Hui Muslim Chinese attacked Tibetans
in revenge for wrecked homes and property.
"The Tibetans were starting to fight back but then the
troops stepped in and restored order," she said.
The report of fresh fighting could not be verified.
A 19-year-old tourist from the United States, Chelsea
Hockett, who arrived on a flight from Lhasa, told
Reuters in the city of Chengdu there had been "a lot
"No one can leave the hotels. It was really bad," she
The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile in
Dharamsala, northern India, said 80 people had died in
the clashes between the authorities and protesters,
and 72 were hurt.
"Confirmed, regarding number of bodies, is 80,"
spokesman Thubten Samphel told reporters from a
Dharamsala temple. Another official, Tenzin Taklha,
said most would have been Tibetans.
It was not clear if anyone had been shot dead. Xinhua
said only that 10 "innocent civilians" had died,
mostly in fires lit by rioters, and 12 policemen had
been seriously injured.
Monks first took to the streets of Tibet last Monday
to mark the 49th anniversary of the 1949 uprising, and
protests soon spread to adjoining regions inhabited by
pockets of Tibetans.
In Lhasa on Friday, protesters, some in monks' robes
and some yelling independence slogans, torched
vehicles, attacked banks and offices and used stones
and knives against police.
Security officials, speaking to Reuters on the
sidelines of China's annual session of parliament in
Beijing, defended the Tibet crackdown and said there
was no call for alarm.
"Having some problems crop up is nothing to make a big
deal out of. We just need to deal with them in an
appropriate manner," said senior army General Zhang
Wentai. "It won't affect the Olympics, or the
country's overall security."
(Additional reporting by Jason Subler and Lindsay Beck
in Beijing, John Ruwitch in Chengdu and by Jonathan
Allen in Dharamsala)