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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?"

Dean Nelson in Kathmandu

March 24, 2008

Times Online
March 23, 2008

The monks of Kirti monastery in Aba, Sichuan, western China, are said to
have found a 16-year-old schoolgirl among up to 23 Tibetan protesters
killed when Chinese police opened fire last Sunday.

Lhundup Tso, the youngest reported victim of the Chinese crackdown,
still had her school satchel strapped to her back. Her body was taken to
the monastery with the other dead to document what Tibetan officials
claim was a massacre.

They fear it may be one of several carried out by Chinese armed police
in an attempt to put down the largest Tibetan uprising in almost 20 years.

Tso is said to have been among 2,500 Tibetans, led by monks, who marched
towards the local government headquarters chanting, “Long live the Dalai
Lama,” and other independence slogans. They set off at 11.30am and were
confronted by about 200 members of the People’s Armed Police, in combat
kit and carrying machineguns.
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According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which
said last week that it had confirmed 23 deaths, the police opened fire
to disperse the crowd.

The centre’s director, Urgen Tenzin, said the shooting had caused panic
and a stampede. Tso was found lying face up on the ground, but monks who
took her body to the monastery said she had been shot in the back of the

Lying nearby was her fellow pupil at Aba Tibetan middle school, a
17-year-old named Norbu, who had been taken to the monastery and
photographed along with five other victims. His thin torso was smeared
with blood and there was a bullet hole in his chest.

The only available picture of Tso shows her very much alive. She is
posing for the camera, with her black shoulder-length hair tucked behind
her ears and a smile joining the ruddy cheeks that identify the Tibetans
of this exposed farming region high on the Tibetan plateau.

Her father Jigshe and mother Sherab are believed to be semi-nomadic
farmers who move to higher pastures in the summer months. They were said
to be especially proud of their daughter, who was described as one of
the brightest students in her year and top of the class in maths and
Tibetan language.

Chinese government reports claim there were no deaths in Aba on Sunday,
but Xinhua, its official news agency, reported that police had opened
fire at protesters “in self-defence”.

Demonstrators, many of them Tso’s fellow pupils, had attacked schools,
hospitals and the government headquarters with petrol bombs and rocks,
the agency reported. They had set fire to cars and Chinese-owned shops
and attacked local Chinese with knives. The rioters had even burnt down
a police station and tried to seize weapons from its officers, Xinhua

Tibetan campaigners dismiss the claims as “propaganda”.
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