Chinese Crackdown on Tibetan Protests
Fire and Debris in Barkhor Square in front
of the 1400-year-old Jokhand Temple (Reuters)
The crackdown in Tibet by the Chinese government on the protests occurring there has been all over the news in the last few days. These protests have been occurring to mark the anniversary of the 1959 uprising in Tibet, which forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India on the basis of the Chinese response. They have been ongoing and, seemingly, escalating since they began on Wednesday.
Reuters is reporting that the protests in Lhasa have resulted in at least a few deaths at the hands of Chinese authorities. Apparently, the Chinese government is now blaming the Dalai Lama as the source for these events (using his magical powers from India, no doubt…):
China accused followers of the Dalai Lama of "masterminding" the uprising, which shatters its carefully-cultivated image of national harmony in the buildup to the Beijing Olympic Games. A spokesman for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader called the allegation "absolutely baseless". The Dalai Lama appealed to China to stop using force and begin dialogue. Similar protests in the past have been crushed with gunfire and mass arrests. Peaceful marches by Buddhist monks in recent days have given way to angry crowds confronting riot police. [...] Up to 400 protesters gathered at a market near the Jokhang temple early on Friday and confronted 1,000 police, according to a witness cited by the Free Tibet Campaign in London.
The Dalai Lama has responded that the claims of him being behind this are “absolutely baseless.”
The BBC is reporting that eyewitnesses stated on Wednesday that they saw Chinese police beating Buddhist monks during protests:
"They started going after the monks, and plain-clothes police - I don't know this for sure but that's what I think they were - started to emerged from nowhere. There were four or five in uniform but another 10 or 15 in regular clothing. They were grabbing monks, kicking and beating them. One monk was kicked in the stomach right in front of us and then beaten on the ground. The monks were not attacking the soldiers, there was no melee. They were heading out in a stream, it was a very clear path, and the police were attacking them at the sides. It was gratuitous violence.&
There are further eyewitness accounts of the protests and rioting in Lhasa being reported on the BBC website. There is news on the New York Times website as well.
Are we witnessing the beginning of the next situation like Burma? Tibet has been an issue for decades and the reports of violence, imprisonment, and torture of ethnic Tibetans and monks have been occurring for a long time but it has been seemingly quiet for years now, without wide scale protests or violence. The real question is how the Chinese government will deal with this as the entire world watches.
Update: There is footage on Youtube from CNN as well about this, which has been added in the last twelve hours.
I have also been pointed to the press release from the Dalai Lama concerning the violence:
I am deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests in many parts of Tibet, including Lhasa, in recent days. These protests are a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance. As I have always said, unity and stability under brute force is at best a temporary solution. It is unrealistic to expect unity and stability under such a rule and would therefore not be conducive to finding a peaceful and lasting solution. I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.