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Elite People's Liberation Army troops enter Lhasa
ICT[Friday, March 21, 2008 11:39]
Monasteries still sealed off in Lhasa

Elite squads from the People's Liberation Army appeared on the streets of Lhasa on the same day the crackdown began. The PLA markings on the back of their vehicles were kept coverded. Stars painted on the steel helmets of the troops were also erased.
Elite squads from the People's Liberation Army appeared on the streets of Lhasa on the same day the crackdown began. The PLA markings on the back of their vehicles were kept coverded. Stars painted on the steel helmets of the troops were also erased.
March 20 - Xinhua news agency reported today that already 160 people had given themselves up to the police, although that could not be confirmed by independent sources. Sources reported seeing forceful detentions of Tibetans from the streets or homes; one source said that the authorities were detaining so many Tibetans that many were shackled, thrown to the ground, and left on a street corner until security personnel could collect them later.

Monks from the three main monasteries, Drepung, Sera and Ganden, who led the initial peaceful protests from March 10, have been under lockdown ever since, and are still surrounded by police in riot gear. According to two sources, their water supply has been cut off and food is difficult to obtain.

As part of the process of intimidation and crackdown, and in a similar pattern to the 'wanted' notices issued after the Tiananmen Square protests in June 1989, local television channels in Lhasa apparently released a list of 12 wanted Tibetans, including two monks. According to various sources, the number of Tibetans detained could be as high as 1000. Sources reported seeing Tibetans being beaten in detention. There were further reports of Tibetans being intimidated by threats and actual attacks on them by ordinary Chinese people in the city.

In an analysis of unfolding events, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington, DC, isolated the two key variables of the current situation as follows: "Whether, (1) Tibetans will maintain their efforts to protest on a significant scale in more locations than Chinese authorities can control, and if Tibetans renew the effort to protest whenever the lockdown eases; and (2) if authorities begin to utilize more aggressive security measures to deal with protestors, or if authorities quietly start detaining and imprisoning key actors in the protests over the coming days, weeks, and months. If either happens, the situation could worsen and spread in unpredictable ways." (www.cecc.gov)

The CECC concluded that a repeat of the imposition of martial law was not likely, as the authorities "likely will want this to subside without roiling the domestic or international scene in the run-up to the Olympics. Declaration of martial law in Lhasa would come at considerable cost to Chinese officials if calls for an Olympic boycott intensify as a result."

A defence analysis publication reported that some of the ground forces deployed in Lhasa during the crackdown of the last few days were elite squads from the People's Liberation Army in addition to People's Armed Police troops. Writing in Kanwa Defence Review, an on-line magazine on East Asian security, defense, diplomacy and weapons technology development, the analyst reported: "Images show that the new T90 APCs and T92 wheeled armoured vehicles belonging to the elite ground force units appeared on the streets of Lhasa in the same day of the crackdown. These equipments have never been deployed in China's armed police before." (www.kanwa.com). The analysis concluded: "To cover up the involvement of regular armed forces in the crackdown, all of the above armoured vehicles are seen using a piece of white cloth to cover the traditional red star mark of the PLA Army, and the red stars painted on the steel helmets of the troops were also erased. The fact that the trump rapid reaction combat units of Chengdu Military Region entered Lhasa at such a fast pace deserves high attention. Moreover, the troops entered Lhasa with heavy equipment. This author's analysis is that the newly built Tibet railroad has given China the capability to transport troops very rapidly."
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