ish’s blog

A blog. By ish.

Violent Chinese crackdown on peaceful protests in Tibet

I’ve had calls from friends in the last few day or so asking if we have further information on the developing situation in Tibet. The Chinese government have enforced a blackout on international media and it has been quite difficult to corroborate some of the stories coming out of Tibet, however the following is a bit of a summary pieced together from various sources including Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, the Guardian and CNN, as well as China’s state run Xinhau news agency and Tibet support groups around the world including ITSN (the International Tibet Support Network), International Campaign for Tibet and our very own ABC News, Lateline and Australia Tibet Council (disclaimer: I’m a director on ATC’s national board).

– Monday 10th March 2008 was the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising day, in which Tibetans rallied against the occupation of their country by the People’s Republic of China who had invaded in 1950. Reports indicate that peaceful protests by Tibetan monks from the Sera and Drepung monasteries, who were calling for the release of monks that had apparently been detained for celebrating the award of the congressional medal of honor to the Dalai Lama in October, sparked violent response from Chinese police, with a number of monks arrested and reportedly beaten.

– In the days that followed, further protests by monks, nuns and lay people calling for the release of the detained monks were broken up by security forces. There has been reported use of tear gas, electric batons and gunfire to quell the protests.

– It is unclear how the peaceful protests have escalated into the violent scenes captured by the media. Police tactics have no doubt played a role in this escalation of violence. In addition, there have been unconfirmed reports of Chinese security forces dressed as monks and conducting violent actions. However, it does appear that the frustrations of ethnic Tibetans to the sustained and brutal occupation of their country has resulted in some Chinese settlers and businesses being targeted during these incidents.

– There have been reports of protesters being being killed but actual numbers are unclear. Initially the Chinese government had denied firing any shots at all, then stated that 13 innocent citizens had been killed by the protesters. Independent reports have claimed that the death toll could be over 100.

– There have also been protests in Amdo and Kham (other regions of Tibet), including further reports of innocent protesters being killed.

– China’s media censorship has slowly, but effectively started to kick in and it is getting increasingly harder to get confirmed reports on what is going on. Some reports have indicated that in Lhasa the streets are quiet, but I’ve also heard and read reports of security forces moving house-to-house and arbitrarily arresting and beating Tibetans (particularly Tibetan youths) in a chilling reprise of the tactics adopted during the 1987 demonstrations.

The news is moving pretty fast and rather than linking specific stories that are likely to go out of date quickly, I’d urge you to monitor updates on the ATC website and the trusted media outlets listed above.

1 Comment»

  Another action for Tibet wrote @

[…] (More from Ashley, who is an active member of the Australia Tibet Council, on the situation here.) […]

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