Lhasa uprising eyewitness recounts nightmare

July 30th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) “The police fired at the protesters, killing scores of innocent people. Trucks followed the army and the police, carrying away the bodies to destroy any evidence of Tibetans killed. I myself saw many people killed,” recounted Kunsang, 30, who was in Lhasa when protests erupted in March this year. He was speaking at a programme called “What Happened in Tibet: An eyewitness account”, organised Tuesday by the NGO Friends of Tibet.

“The uprising March 10 was not a result of just one or two days (of incidents). Tension was building since January and February. There were whispers among people regarding the alarming rise in number of police personnel in the city,” said Kunsang, who managed to escape.

Tibetan poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue moderated the programme in which Kunsang spoke in Tibetan.

“There were also reports of Chinese Army being stationed in the city. Even before March 10, people were stopped from going on pilgrimage and the movement of people was stopped,” said Kunsang, who sold second-hand clothes for a living.

“The complete city was in chaos and everywhere there was army and police. Tanks were dropping tear gas shells and the police fired at the protesters killing scores of innocent people,” Kunsang said.

“Trucks followed the army and the police carrying away bodies to destroy any evidence of Tibetans killed. I myself saw many people being shot dead. The only sign of those killed was blood stained roads,” he added.

“The city was in complete chaos, no one knew what was happening. There was no one leading the protest, Tibetans were just raising slogans against China authorities demanding independence in small groups across the city.

“After a few days we realised that the city was in complete control of the army and the police. I stayed with a friend who works in railways till March 18. The police were keeping record of every single person in the city by conducting house-to-house checks.”

Kunsang managed to leave Tibet March 26 and reach Nepal two days later. He remained in Nepal for a month and then reached Dharamsala, from where the Tibetan parliament-in-exile operates.

Asked if he is in touch with any of his family members, Kunsang said: “My father lives a nomadic life so it is not possible to remain in touch with him but I talk to my elder brother regularly.”

Serta Tsultrim, who is the youngest member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, said: “We have solid evidence of 218 Tibetans killed in the uprising. It could be more, as there is no clear evidence of other Tibetans.

“As per our information, nearly 5,000 Tibetans were arrested in the protest and more than 1,000 were wounded,” he added.

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