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Violence, Protests Spread from Tibet to Neighboring Chinese Provinces

March 17, 2008

Radio Free Asia
16 March 2008

KATHMANDU—Violence spread from Tibet through neighboring parts of China
on Sunday as anti-Chinese protesters took to the streets in Sichuan,
Gansu, and Qinghai provinces, with large crowds of Tibetans  marching on
government buildings, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

             In the Ngaba [in Chinese, Aba] prefecture of Gansu
province, witnesses reported clashes near Kirti monastery and deaths
from gunfire. “Just now eight bodies have arrived in Kirti monastery,”
an eyewitness inside the monastery said in an interview.

             Another Tibetan who joined the Ngaba protests reported
seeing Tibetans killed by gunfire from inside a police post after the
Tibetans attacked police buildings.

             “Four Tibetans were killed by gunfire while they were
marching near Kirti monastery… Then a little later, another three were
killed. They were shot from a distance. Before they were shot, the
protesters had smashed the windows at two police posts,” the protester
said. “There looked like 5,000 to 6,000 protesters....The names of the
three people killed later are Tsezin, Norbu, and Lobsang Tashi.”

              Many remote areas of the Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai
plateau are home to large Tibetan populations, many of whom are nomadic
tribes.

              Protests also erupted Sunday in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba)
Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
According to Reuters, rioters surrounded local government buildings,
throwing makeshift explosives and bricks.

             Tibetans in Ngaba confirmed the reports of clashes to RFA’s
Mandarin service: “The reports you have heard are all true. This is all
happening. Some things that have happened I can’t talk about because it
is not convenient.”

             Another Tibetan living nearby also confirmed reports of
protests in Ngaba, saying they were still going on late Sunday.

             Repeated calls to the Ngaba prefecture police headquarters
and local government offices met busy signals. An employee at the county
hospital declined to comment on the reports of casualties. “We don’t
know. We don’t know right now,” the employee said.

             In Gansu, Tibetan students at Lanzhou’s Northwest National
University staged a peaceful demonstration on the university grounds.

             “Hundreds of Tibetan students took part, and Tibetan
students from other departments tried to join in but were blocked. They
declared that their protest was peaceful, and they urged the Chinese
authorities to stop their crackdown on Tibetans in Lhasa and other
Tibetan areas,” a witness said.

             “They also expressed solidarity with those Tibetans who
protested in Lhasa, Labrang, and others outside Tibet. They had a banner
that read, ‘We stand together with Tibetans, for glorious democracy and
life.’”

             In Machu county, Gannan, also in Gansu province, hundreds
of Tibetans, mostly lay people, marched to county government buildings
shouting “Long live the Dalai Lama!” and carrying a portrait of the
Dalai Lama.

             In Sichuan, “the situation is very tense,” said one Tibetan
resident.

             “On March 15, there were protests in Kham Tawo [in Chinese,
Daofu] in Ganzi prefecture. Suddenly 10 armed police trucks arrived…Kham
Sershul monastery was surrounded. They are patrolling streets and
randomly checking identification,” the source said.

           Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR),
meanwhile remained under lockdown, with a heavy presence of security
forces, police, and armored vehicles. Witnesses who declined to be
identified told RFA’s Tibetan service of scattered protests around the city.

             “I haven’t been back to my house for two days now. There
are troops all over, and we are completely locked inside. I have no
information about what is happening outside,” one Tibetan resident of
Lhasa said in an interview.

             From inside the Tsangkhug nunnery in Lhasa, a witness said
five wounded people had died but the cause of death was unclear.

             “Two Tibetans who were at the hospital were injured, and
they complained that their legs were broken. The body of a young boy is
still lying here unclaimed. Several other dead bodies were brought, and
many of them were claimed by relatives,” the source said.

             Another witness in Lhasa said authorities in the city were
conducting house to house searches for banned photos of the Tibetan
exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, and for fugitive protesters.

             “Official warnings were issued to all Tibetan residents of
Lhasa that all Tibetan houses will be searched for photos of the Dalai
Lama and for Tibetans who were involved in the riots. They were warned
that no one should attempt to stop the searches and arrests, and people
are not allowed to gather in groups when arrests are made,” the source said.

             The same person said TAR officials had recalled all Tibetan
government workers now in different parts of China, telling them “to
report back to Lhasa within three days—they are needed to secure TAR
railway lines. Failure to report in will result in ‘consequences.’”

             Tibetans in Lhasa said the armed police had blocked all
intersections around the central, older part of the city, and many
people were stuck indoors relying on state-run television news.

             A Tibetan resident from the outskirts of the regional
capital said it was impossible to get into the city center. “The
military has blocked every intersection, so we can’t go anywhere. So I
basically have no idea what is going on in town.”

             A Han Chinese resident of Lhasa surnamed Wang said: “The
television news report yesterday said those people were burning, killing
and looting. But we don’t know. The compound has been sealed off, and
they won’t let us out.”

             Tibetan exiles and witnesses report rising death tolls in
clashes between security forces and protesters, but precise casualty
figures remain impossible to gather.

             Violence erupted March 14 after five days of protests, with
demonstrators torching Chinese-owned shops and cars in the worst
violence in the region in two decades.

             Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama’s exile
government, said multiple witnesses inside Tibet had reported at least
80 people had been killed since Friday, although how many were
protesters was unclear.

             China’s official Xinhua news agency has said at least 10
civilians were burned to death on Friday.
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