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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Exclusive: Chinese police kill eight after opening fire on monks and Tibet protesters

April 5, 2008

Times Online, April 4, 2008
Jane Macartney in Beijing

Chinese paramilitary police have killed eight people after opening fire
on several hundred Tibetan monks and villagers in bloody violence that
will fuel human rights protests as London prepares to host its leg of
the Olympic torch relay this weekend.

Witnesses said the clash – in which dozens were wounded – erupted late
last night after a government inspection team entered a monastery in the
Chinese province of Sichuan trying to confiscate pictures of the Dalai Lama.

Officials searched the room of every monk in the Donggu monastery, a
sprawling 15th century edifice in Ganzi, southwestern Sichuan,
confiscating all mobile phones as well as the pictures.

When the inspectors tore up the photographs and threw them on the floor,
a 74-year-old monk, identified as Cicheng Danzeng, tried to stop an act
seen as a desecration by Tibetans who revere the Dalai Lama as their god

A young man working in the monastery, identified as Cicheng Pingcuo, 25,
also made a stand and both were arrested.

The team then demanded that all the monks denounce the Dalai Lama, who
fled China after a failed uprising in 1959. One monk, Yixi Lima, stood
up and voiced his opposition, prompting the other monks to add their voices.

At about 6.30 p.m., the entire monastic body marched down to a nearby
river where paramilitary police were encamped and demanded the release
of the two men.

They were joined by several hundred local villagers, many of them
enraged at the detention of the 74-year-old monk Cicheng Danzeng, who
locals say is well respected in the area for his learning and piety.

Shouting “Long Live the Dalai Lama,” “Let the Dalai Lama come back” and
“We want freedom”, the crowd demonstrated until about nine in the evening.

Witnesses said that at around that time, as many as 1,000 paramilitary
police used force to try to end the protest and opened fire on the
crowd. It was not known if the demonstrators had been throwing stones at
the police.

In the gunfire, eight people died, according to a local resident in
direct contact with the monastery. These included a 27-year-old monk
identified as Cangdan and two women named as Zhulongcuo and Danluo.

Witnesses said a 30-year-old villager, Pupu Deley, was killed, along
with the son of a villager named Cangdan, and the daughter of villager
Cuogu. Two other people, whose identities were not available, were also
killed and dozens were wounded, the witnesses said.

They said about ten people were still missing today, including another
monk, identified as Ciwang Renzhen.

Armed paramilitary police patrolled the streets of the village today and
surrounded the monastery. All communications had been cut.

The latest upsurge of violence highlights the difficulties the Chinese
authorities are facing in trying to end nearly a month of protests
across the Tibetan region and the depth of anti-Chinese sentiment among
a deeply Buddhist minority loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama.

It comes just as the issue of unrest has become a magnet for activists
around the world who are criticising China’s human rights record as it
prepares to host the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

The incident, which will cast a shadow of Beijing plans to reopen the
Tibetan capital, Lhasa, to tourists by May 1, came as the authorities
appeared to have regained control of the vast parts of China that have
large ethnic Tibetan populations.

In Lhasa, police issued their Number 13 most wanted list, bringing to 79
the number of people still sought for their roles in a deadly riot on
March 14 when angry Tibetans rampaged through the streets of the Tibetan
capital, stabbing and stoning ethnic Han Chinese and setting fire to
hundreds of shops and offices. At least 18 people died in the violence.

Lhasa authorities today sent out a message by mobile phone to residents,
offering a reward of 20,000 yuan (£1,300) to anyone who could offer
information leading to the arrest of those wanted for the violence.

Two monks in the mountainous Sichuan province have committed suicide,
according to Tibetan sources. A 32-year-old monk at Kirti monastery
hanged himself in his room on March 27, leaving a signed suicide note.

A 72-year-old from Guomang temple, apparently upset after being detained
while en route to a religious ceremony with his disciples, returned to
his monastery and killed himself.
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