A Chinese policeman gesture to stop photos being taken of Tibetan monks at the famous Potala Palace in Lhasa
BEIJING — Up to 60 Buddhist monks were arrested in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa as authorities quashed protests marking an uprising that led to the exile of the Dalai Lama, Radio Free Asia said Tuesday.
The arrests occurred on Monday as up to 300 protesters began marching from a monastery to the Potala Palace in central Lhasa calling for an end to a police crackdown on religious figures, the US-government funded broadcaster said.
Between 50 and 60 of the marchers were arrested as police and paramilitary police blocked roads and encircled other monasteries around Lhasa to prevent the protests from growing, it said.
Eleven other demonstrators managed to stage a protest in central Lhasa, but were also arrested, according to the report, citing sources in the city who asked to remain anonymous.
Police and religious affairs officials in Lhasa refused to comment on the unrest when contacted by phone by AFP.
Other Tibetan groups could not be contacted immediately to confirm the report. However, the Free Tibet organisation in London issued a press release highlighting the Radio Free Asia report and condemning the apparent crackdown.
During the march, protesters called for the release of monks that were imprisoned in October last year, after the US Congress awarded the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, a Congressional gold medal, Radio Free Asia said.
The march coincided with the 49th anniversary of the crushing by China's People's Liberation Army of an uprising in Tibet, resulting in the exile of the Dalai Lama.
Chinese troops killed tens of thousands of Tibetans, according to a report on the incident on the Tibetan government-in-exile's website.
China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 and officially "liberated" it a year later.
In a speech to coincide with the anniversary of the 1959 uprising, the Dalai Lama on Monday attacked China's human rights record and accused Chinese authorities of "unimaginable and gross violations" in his homeland.
"For nearly six decades Tibetans have had to live in a state of constant fear under Chinese repression," the 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said from his base in Dharamsala, India.
Also on Monday, Indian police banned about 100 Tibetan exiles in India from going ahead with a historic trek to their homeland as part of pro-independence protests ahead of the Beijing Olympics.