At least 80 dead in Tibet riot

March 16th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by admin  

(Second lead)
Beijing, March 16 (DPA) The Tibetan government in exile said it has confirmed at least 80 deaths in rioting in Lhasa, as Tibetan independence protests continued in monastery towns in western China Sunday. “As the Tibet uprising continues reliable sources have confirmed that at least 80 people were killed on March 14, 2008 in Lhasa,” the government in exile, based in the Indian city of Dharamsala, said in a statement.

The Dalai Lama, the highest leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said he had “grave concerns” that more bloodshed could follow.

He told the BBC that the situation in Tibetan areas of China had become “very, very tense.”

“Now today and yesterday, the Tibetan side is determined. The Chinese side also equally determined. So that means, the result: killing, more suffering,” the broadcaster quoted him as saying.

The Dalai Lama said the Chinese government should stop “clinging to its policy” of relying on force to control Tibetans because “they cannot control human minds.”

One resident of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, said hundreds of Tibetans were continuing protests in the city despite a military crackdown after riots erupted Friday.

Tibetan protesters took to the streets Saturday night, shouting that they wanted to rid Lhasa of all Chinese people, a Chinese resident told DPA by telephone.

“They burned buildings and smashed windows and everything else,” said the woman, who works at a Lhasa travel agency.

She said she heard rumours that police detained about 1,000 monks Saturday and that 6,000 others were continuing their protests.

Army reinforcements arrived Saturday from neighbouring Yunnan province, she said, as troops with tanks and armoured personnel carriers imposed virtual marital law in Lhasa.

Hundreds of monks at the Kirti monastery in Ngaba county, Sichuan province, also staged a protest after a prayer session Sunday morning, the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported.

The monks and lay Tibetans raised the Tibetan national flag, which is banned in China and shouted slogans including “Tibet independence,” “return of the Dalai Lama” and “freedom for Tibet,” the centre quoted witnesses as saying.

Police rushed into the monastery compound and used tear gas against the protesters, it said.

Troop reinforcements had already entered the area after a protest at a nearby monastery Saturday led to the arrest of at least 10 monks, the centre said.

An estimated 3,000 Tibetan protesters in the town of Xiahe, near Labrang monastery in China’s Gansu province, shouted slogans in support of the Dalai Lama Saturday and called for the release of the Panchen Lama, US-based Radio Free Asia reported.

Police used tear gas after monks and lay Tibetans marched along the main street in the town, attacking shops, banks and other buildings, Xiahe residents said.

More protests were reported in Lithang and Sershul towns in Sichuan.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against the occupation of Tibet by Chinese troops since 1951.

The current protests began Monday to mark the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising.

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