There have been violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa as rallies against Chinese rule, said to be the largest in 20 years, continue.
Witnesses have been describing the protests and the Chinese security forces’ response.
The following accounts are from the BBC:
“Well it’s early evening here, and the old Tibetan quarter of Lhasa still is very much in the control of the ethnic Tibetans who have been rioting for the last several hours since midday.
The unrest began earlier this week
Some of them are still attacking Chinese properties, shops, restaurants, owned by ethnic Chinese. Some of them are looting those shops, taking out the contents and throwing them on huge fires which they’ve lit in the street.
Now I think the big question on everybody’s mind is what’s next? The troops for the time being are still standing there and we don’t know what’s holding them back.
It could be a political question, indecision in Beijing over how to handle this, because if they do move in there could be bloodshed and that could have implications for the holding of the Olympics.”
–James Miles, The Economists
“The street is pretty much in flames. I saw a huge amount of military in the town.
It went crazy all of a sudden. All the Chinese shops were put on fire by Tibetans.
Tanks in the street. Tear gas. I saw people being carried away on stretchers and ordinary Tibetans going crazy.”
–Anonymous eye witness
“We saw policemen, uniformed policemen, which were unusual – we hadn’t seen them in any of the temples in the days before but there were two of them at least there visible crackling into their radios.
As the monks ran down suddenly people, policemen just appeared almost as if out of nowhere and started beating, pulling and kicking them as they streamed down towards the main entrance of the temple.”
–Anonymous eye witness
“I just returned from Lhasa yesterday. I was in Lhasa for about 6 days, and I had just arrived at the famed Sera Monastery to see the debating monks, when they suddenly stormed out of their ‘debating courtyard’ and rushed for the entrance of the temple.
The Buddha Halls were immediately shut in our faces by security officials. Members of our group saw monks being beaten and kicked by the security forces that swarmed all over the temple precincts.
The monks were forced to sit in rows, surrounded by a double-phalanx of riot cops, brandishing clubs.
Our group was ushered out of the temple, and as we headed back in the direction of central Lhasa, we passed incoming troop-carriers ferrying camouflaged army regulars, with other army units marching in on foot from close locations.
All roads leading in were closed off. ”
“I was in Tibet from the 6th to the 12th of March, and was also witness to the monks fleeing from Sera Monastery and being beaten by police.
Our group was denied access to the monastery, and we were told that all the tourist access has been cut off.
We were told not to take any photos by our Chinese guide, and there were police staring at us as we waited in our bus watching the monks trying to get out of the monastery.”
–Leslie from Canada