Nomadic villages join Tibet uprising

On March 18, protests broke out in Ganja, a nomadic village 25 kilometers north of Labrang in Amdo (traditional Tibetan region in Gansu province), with some 2,000 marching on government township office with Tibetan flags and portraits of the Dalai Lama. Residents at the nearby nomadic village of Songkok stormed local government offices, shouting anti-China slogans. Protesters from Amchok village began a cross-country march towards Labrang but were halted by the People’s Armed Police. (Phayul, March 18) Some 600 monks from Amchok Tsenyi monastery staged a protest outside the local government office in Tsenyi, a village in Ngaba Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province. (Phayul, March 18)

Ethnic Tibetan students staged a candle-lit vigil in Beijing. Police kept reporters away from the peaceful protest by dozens of students gathered on the campus of the Central University for Nationalities. (Reuters, March 18)

Speaking at the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai Lama said he would not ask Tibetans to surrender to Chinese military police by midnight on March 18, as Beijing has demanded. He said that he had no moral authority to do so, and that Tibetans had called upon him not to capitulate to that demand. “Whether the Chinese government admits it or not, a nation with an ancient cultural heritage is actually facing serious dangers,” the Dalai Lama told reporters. “Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place.” (NYT, March 17)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, “Claims that the Chinese government is involved in so- called cultural genocide are nothing but lies… Since the peaceful liberation [presumably meaning 1959] and especially the democratic reform [presumably meaning since 1979], Tibet has moved forward and become more developed.” Speaking at a press conference at the end of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, Wen said security forces showed “restraint” in putting down the riots in Tibet. (Xinhua, Bloomberg, March 18)

See our last post on the Tibet crisis.