Tibet: deadly repression continues

<em>Hidden mural of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa</em>” title=”<em>Hidden mural of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa</em>” class=”image thumbnail” height=”65″ width=”100″></a><span class=Hidden mural of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa

Troops from the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) fired on hundreds of protesters led by Buddhist monks at Kardze in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Sichuan province April 3, leaving eight dead. The protest began when monks of Tongkor Monastery in Zithang township, Kardze County, marched to demand the release of two monks arrested the previous day for defying China’s official “Patriotic Education” campaign, which requires monks to denounce the Dalai Lama, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). Scores of Tibetans were injured and arrested, the TCHRD said. China’s official Xinhua news agency reported one government official was seriously injured in what it called a riot.

AP, citing the London-based Free Tibet Campaign and the International Campaign for Tibet, said the two monks were detained after 3,000 paramilitary troops searched their monastery and found photographs of the Dalai Lama. The International Campaign for Tibet said the two monks—Tsultrim Tenzin, in his 70s, and Yeshe Nyima, a young man—were detained after they protested when officials threw pictures of the Dalai Lama and of the monastery’s exiled tulku, Tongkor Shabdrung, on the ground.

AP said: “Calls to local police and hospitals in the area were not answered Saturday or else officials said they had no information.” The agency added: “It was impossible to verify the information since Chinese authorities have banned foreign reporters from traveling to the region.” The TCHRD called the deaths “confirmed information.”

On Saturday, the TCHRD, based in India, also said two monks committed suicide last month in Sichuan’s Aba County in protest of government oppression. One monk, identified as Lobsang Jinpa from the Aba Kirti Monastery, reportedly killed himself March 27, leaving a signed note saying, “I do not want to live under Chinese oppression even for a minute.” On March 30 at the Aba Gomang Monastery, a 75-year-old monk named Legtsok reportedly took his life, telling his followers he “can’t bear the oppression anymore.” Aba County has been the scene of large protests involving hundreds of monks and supporters in recent weeks.

The official Tibet Daily newspaper reported April 5 that the government plans to step up its “Patriotic Education” campaign. “We should strengthen patriotic education so as to guide the masses of monks to continuously display the patriotic tradition and uphold the banner of patriotism,” the paper quoted Hao Peng, Tibet’s deputy Communist Party Chief.

Chinese authorities say 22 people were killed in the riots in the Tibet since mid-March. The Tibetan government-in-exile puts the toll at up to 140. TCHRD reports that Chinese authorities have arrested over 2,300 in the Tibet Autonomous Region and adjacent Tibetan areas over the past weeks, with sweeps continuing. Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the violence, a charge the spiritual leader has repeatedly denied.

In India, police arrested 17 Tibetan exiles April 5 as they attempted to march from Ladakh into Tibet. The exiles were arrested for violating a law that prohibits entry into sensitive border areas. (AP, TCHRD, April 5; ICT, TCHRD, April 4)

See our last post on Tibet.

  1. Tibetan “independence torch” begins journey
    A Tibetan “independence torch” unveiled has arrived in New Delhi from Dharamsala on its first leg of a journey around the world before the Olympics in Beijing. The torch was received by a gathering of 200 Tibetan refugees outside the Jantar Mantar monument in central Delhi. (DPA, April 4)

    Meanwhile, a “Human Rights Torch Relay,” kicked off with a rally in San Francisco’s Union Square April 5. (AP, April 5) On April 2, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed 8-3 a controversial resolution sponsored by Chris Daly stating that the city receives the Olympic torch with “alarm and protest at the failure of China to meet its past solemn promises to the international community, including the citizens of San Francisco, to cease the egregious and ongoing human rights abuses in China and occupied Tibet.” It has yet to be signed by Mayor Gavin Newsom (San Mateo Daily Journal, April 2)

  2. What does Uri Avnery and IAC have in common?
    Since you love quoting Avnery, I thought you’d enjoy this pearl of wisdom from the old bat:

    I support the Tibetans in spite of it being obvious that the Americans are exploiting the struggle for their own purposes. Clearly, the CIA has planned and organized the riots, and the American media are leading the world-wide campaign.

    1. What “does” they have in common?
      Hopefully, not a poor grasp of basic English grammar.

      It is to Avnery’s credit that he supports the Tibetans in spite of the obvious reality that the US is exploiting their struggle. This distinguishes him from the IAC, which does not support the Tibetans. That said, I think it is very far from “clear” that “the CIA has planned and organized the riots.”

  3. Protests follow Olympic torch in London, Paris…
    From the Sports Network, April 7:

    PARIS – The 2008 Olympic torch relay was again met with protests in France, one day after demonstrators clashed with police while the flame made its way through London.

    This summer’s Olympic Games are being held in Beijing, China. The communist nation’s human rights record has been called into question, particularly with recent unrest in Tibet.

    Since the flame was lit in Greece on March 24, protests have continually followed its international route.

    Sunday’s journey through London featured at least 25 arrests, as protestors tried to extinguish the flame.

    On Monday, the flame had to be put out by officials after numerous attempts to disrupt its planned run through Paris. The torch was placed on a bus, several times, to protect it from protestors before the final scheduled leg was cancelled.

    While the torch, itself, was extinguished, the Olympic flame still burns in a lantern, which is used on long journeys, such as plane flights.

    The torch will be in the United States on Wednesday in San Francisco, where more protests are expected.

    From the London Times, April 8:

    The Beijing torch was extinguished three times in Paris as thousands of human rights protesters turned the relay into a rout, forcing it to end its shortened journey on a bus.

    The debacle followed serious clashes between police and pro-Tibet demonstrators during the 31-mile London leg on Sunday that left organisers determined to learn the lessons of a logistical and public relations disaster.

  4. …and San Francisco
    From the San Francisco Chronicle, April 8:

    Pro-Tibet protesters climb Golden Gate Bridge cables
    Three demonstrators scaled cables near the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge today and unfurled banners intended to draw attention to Chinese human rights violations in Tibet.

    The protest by Students for a Free Tibet came the day before the Olympic Torch is to arrive in San Francisco for its only North American stop before this summer’s games in Beijing.

    The protesters, two men and a woman, scaled the cables around 10:30 a.m., and unfurled two banners around 11:20 a.m. One banner read, “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 08,” a play on the official slogan of this year’s Olympic Games, “One World, One Dream.” The other read simply, “Free Tibet.”

    The protesters also hung two Tibetan flags.

    The activists used climbing gear to reach a spot 150 feet over the roadway and 370 feet above the water. They rappelled down about 1 p.m. and were arrested by California Highway Patrol officers. Iron workers will remove the banners and flags, authorities said.

    California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Mary Ziegenbein said police arrested another four activists who did not scale the cables.

    Bridge manager Kary Witt said cameras are trained on the span, but that authorities at first hadn’t realized that protesters were about to climb the cables because they wore “ordinary” clothing and pushed a baby stroller. Their “Team Tibet” T-shirts were covered, and their banners and climbing gear were disguised by the stroller, he said.

    Witt said the group came down after he went out with a bullhorn and pleaded with them. He told the activists that they were posing a danger to themselves and bridge employees.

    It took the group an hour to get down, Witt said, partly because the female protester got caught in one of the banners and needed help getting untangled.

    Arrested were Mac Sutherlin, 30, of Sausalito; Hannah Strange, 29, of Oakland; Duane Martinez, 27, of Sausalito; Alexandra Taub, 22, of Vancouver; Thomas Parkin, 38, of San Francisco; Tashi Sharzur, 47, of San Mateo; and Leslie Kaup, 31, of St. Paul, Minn. All were booked on suspicion of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor causing a public nuisance, the CHP said.

    Sutherlin, Strange and Martinez, the three who climbed the cables, were also booked on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, the CHP said.

    Yangchen Lhamo, a Tibetan American who lives in San Francisco, said Students for a Free Tibet hopes to persuade the International Olympic Committee to keep the torch out of Tibet this summer. It is scheduled to pass through Tibet on June 19-21.

    Lhamo said the group planned other protests Tuesday and Wednesday that she said would be peaceful. On Tuesday, there will be an alternative torch event, the celebration of the Tibetan Freedom Torch, beginning at 11 a.m. at United Nations Plaza in San Francisco.

    A number of visitors who were prevented from crossing the bridge for several hours appeared to take the protest in stride. Cincinnati resident Jim Hayden, 62, who is visiting San Francisco for the first time, said he was well aware of the city’s reputation for political activity.

    “If they’re going to do it, do it here,” Hayden said. “These people have their point of view, and find very strange ways to express them.”

    1. Olympic bait-and-switch
      After appeasing protest organizers and the ACLU by releasing the torch route (along the Embarcadero and Chinatown), San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom had it changed at the last minute—resulting in what the LA Times called “a bizarre game of hide-and-seek, with officials hustling the flame onto a secretive and meandering route that baffled and angered many would-be spectators.” The paper quoted Newsom April 10:

      “We had one of two choices,” the mayor said. “We could cancel the event outright or we could resolve this by adjusting the route. That was the assessment I made to keep people safe… I have no regrets.”

      Nonetheless, while thousands of spectators and protesters alike were left high and dry waiting for a torch that never showed up on the assigned route, one intrepid torch-bearer—New York environmentalist Majora Carter of the group Sustainable South Bronx—unfurled a small Tibetan flag she had hidden up her sleeve. The action won her a harsh rebuke from Coca-Cola, the sponsor which chose Carter to carry the torch in San Francisco. Carter said that as “a civil rights activist in this country,” she could not stand in support of China. The April 11 New York Times account notes the controversial presence of a Chinese security force around the torch:

      Five seconds into her run down Van Ness Avenue, Ms. Carter pulled the Tibetan flag from her sleeve and began waving it. There she was, a mole at the head of the procession.

      She waved the flag for roughly five seconds, until a Chinese guard saw her. He lunged at her. She dodged him. He lunged again and soon wrested the flag from her hand, saying, “Sorry, I can’t let you do this.”

      She said she was pushed toward a group of San Francisco police officers, who then pushed her into a crowd of bystanders. Her time in the spotlight was over. The torch kept moving.

      These so-called “torch-minders,” or Beijing Olympic Games Sacred Flame Protection Unit, were also responsible for some of the repressive violence in London and Paris. The Washington Post reports: “The special squad was made up of closely vetted volunteers from the special forces academy of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, state-controlled news media reported.” Will they be on hand in Buenos Aires as well?

  5. …and Buenos Aires
    From AP, April 11:

    BUENOS AIRES — Argentine runners relayed the Olympic torch past fenced-off protesters on Friday, as hundreds of China supporters in red windbreakers tried to reverse weeks of bad publicity for the host of the Summer Games….

    Mayor Mauricio Macri held the slender aluminum torch aloft, then passed it to three-time Olympic windsurfing medalist Carlos Espinola, who jogged into Buenos Aires streets flanked by Chinese bodyguards. Heavyset police from Argentina’s navy huffed to keep up.

    A sea of about 500 China supporters in red windbreakers handed out by organizers waved banners and denounced what they called political interference in the ceremony.

    So who exactly was giving out those red windbreakers?

  6. Tibetan protests continue in India
    From AP, April 10:

    NEW DELHI — Thousands of Tibetan demonstrators carried 152 shrouded effigies, representing the compatriots they believed were killed in a crackdown on anti-China protests in the Himalayan region, in a rally Thursday in the Indian capital.

    Carrying placards saying “Stop Cultural Genocide in Tibet” and “China has turned Tibet into a Killing Field,” Thursday’s protesters urged China to release imprisoned Tibetans and remove its heavy military presence from the region.

    Roughly 200 protesters marched to New Delhi from Dharmsala, the seat of Tibet’s government-in-exile and home to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. The rest of the demonstrators arrived from neighboring states.

    The crowd carried 152 stuffed effigies draped in white shrouds, representing the 152 victims they believe were killed in the protests and the ensuing crackdown in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, last month. Chinese authorities say 22 people died in the riots that broke out March 14.

      1. You don’t get it.
        We support the Tibetans for exactly the same reasons we support the Zapatistas and peasant movement in Colombia: autonomy for indigenous peoples. For us, it is and always has been about upholding this principle. For you, we surmise, it just about an Oedipus Complex against Big Daddy US Imperialism.

        1. Why people get confused.
          Of course US hypocrisy on the Tibet question is rife, as we have already pointed out. But if we let that blind us to the intrinsic right and wrong of the question, we are playing in to the whole global divide-and-conquer scam which is the essence of the state system. From CNN, April 10:

          House passes Chinese crackdown resolution
          WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution Wednesday calling on China to end its crackdown on Tibet and release Tibetans imprisoned for “nonviolent” demonstrations.

          The vote was 413-1. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who has not dropped out of the presidential race, was the lone congressman voting against it.

          The resolution passed just hours before runners were to carry the Olympic torch on a six-mile route around San Francisco Bay.

          San Francisco, California, which is in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 8th District, is the only U.S. stop for the torch relay, which is wrapping up the first week of a 23-city international tour.

          Pelosi and other House members introduced the resolution, which urges China to end the crackdown in Tibet and “enter into a substantive dialogue” with the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India.

          “It is my hope that the House of Representatives will send a clear message that we support the fundamental freedoms of the Tibetan people and a peaceful solution to the instability in Tibet,” Pelosi said Tuesday on the House floor.

          “It is long past time for Beijing to reassess its failed policy to attack and demonize the Dalai Lama, and show the world it can have civilized discussions as a responsible world power,” she said.

          Well, it’s heartwarming to see Ron Paul making common cause with the Stalinists on this…

        2. email from where …. ?
          > it just about an Oedipus Complex against Big Daddy US Imperialism.

          There is another possibility – that this is English speaking Chinese net surfers supporting the Han / Monroe doctrine and not members of the (idiot) western left. Constant use of the phrase ‘Dalai Clique’ makes me suspicious.