A week after it began, the uprising in Tibet finally hit the front page of the New York Times March 15, with clashes reported throughout Lhasa the previous day. At the Tromsikhang market, Chinese-owned shops were burned and cars overturned. At least two were killed when police fired on crowds in the city’s Barkhor district. A tourist bus was torched outside the Ramoche temple, where monks clashed with police and protesters waved traditional white scarves, chanting “Free Tibet.” Beijing is said to be bringing in military police troops, as well as dispatching them to other parts of China with significant Tibetan populations—such as the sacred city of Bamei, Sichuan. BBC News says Chinese authorities put the total dead at 10, but the BBC World Service reported early the 16th that the Dalai Lama says he has received reports of up to 100 dead. He also rejects official Chinese assertions that martial law has not been declared. “I have the feeling this is like in 1959, after the 10th of March… I fear more killing, more suffering.”
Asked by the World Service if he would call for a halt to the protests, the Dalai Lama responded: “It is a people’s movement, it is up to them.” He emphasized: “We are not seeking independence or separation. But stability and unity must come from the heart, not simply from force. China has tried that for 50 years and failed… They cannot control human mind. More suppression, more military occupation—more failure.”
The World Service says protesters are now surrounded by security forces in an ethnic-Tibetan district of Lhasa and have been given a deadline of midnight Monday (March 17) to “stand down.”
Uprising spreads to Gansu, Sichuan and the diaspora
With a semblance of calm returning to Lhasa the 15th, protests erupted for a second consecutive day in the city of Xiahe, Gansu province, where an estimated 4,000 Tibetans gathered near the Labrang monastery, culminating in a clash with security forces, the Times reported the 16th.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights & Democracy (TCHRD) reports March 16 that thousands of Tibetan monks at Amdo Ngaba Kirti monastery, in Ngaba county of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP) in Sichuan province, “erupted into spontaneous protest” after morning prayers, chanting the slogans “Tibet independence,” “return of the Dalai Lama” and “freedom for Tibet”—and raising the banned Tibetan flag. Within moments, the People’s Armed Police (PAP) burst into the monastery grounds and fired tear gas at the monks. Some ten monks were arrested, and the monastery remains occupied by security forces. A similar scene is reported from the TAP’s Taktsang Lhamo Kirti monastery.
Thousands of Buddhists marched in Nepal and India in solidarity with the Tibet protesters, and the World Service noted reports of Chinese security forces crossing into Nepalese territory to put down protests at the border.
Dalai Lama disavows violence
The March 15 Times account quoted China’s official news agency Xinhua: “The government of Tibet Autonomous Region said Friday there had been enough evidence to prove that the recent sabotage was ‘organized, premeditated and masterminded’ by the Dalai clique.”
The Dalai Lama issued a statement calling on both sides to avoid violence and appealing to China’s leaders to “address the long simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people.” A spokesman for the Dalai Lama called China’s accusations “absolutely baseless.”
See our last post on Tibet.