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Tibetan Protests Linger Amid Armed Police Presence in Western China
RFA[Wednesday, April 02, 2008 08:42]

Chinese military in full riot gear are transported in the back of army trucks in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on 16 March, 2008. AFP
Chinese military in full riot gear are transported in the back of army trucks in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on 16 March, 2008. AFP
HONG KONG — Hundreds of high-school students from a Tibetan middle school in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu are boycotting classes in protest at the recent crackdown on Tibetan protesters in the region, sources in the area said.

“Many people protested and things got very chaotic,” a woman living in Chone (in Chinese, Zhuoni) county, Kanlho (in Chinse, Gannan) prefecture, told RFA’s Mandarin service.

“The protesters are Tibetan students from a local high school. It is not yet over,” she said.

A law enforcement official from the Chone county government told reporter Qiao Long: “The majority of the protesters are good people.” But while he didn't deny the high-school students were striking, he declined to comment further.

At least two monks were reported killed in Chone in mid-March during a crackdown on Tibetan protests in the area, according to multiple sources.

“They were killed by troops on March 14,” a Tibetan resident said March 31. Residents said armed police from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, had been deployed to the area to keep the peace.

“Armed police are trying to arrest Tibetans who remain at large. There are still some sporadic riots,” a Han Chinese resident of the region said Sunday.

And on the provincial border between Gansu and southwestern Sichuan province, monks continued to protest, despite a large armed police presence, Tibetan sources said.

Armed police were also reported in large numbers in Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) autonomous prefecture of Sichuan, and in Chigdril (Jiuzhi) county in the Golog (Guoluo) autonomous prefecture of Qinghai province, sources said.

One official in Kardze who confirmed to RFA that riots and protests had taken place there in late March said he was now in trouble with his superiors for giving out information to the media. “I was punished for giving that interview,” he said.

Authorities were now beginning a campaign in some areas to persuade local residents to reject calls for talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

“More troops arrived here a couple of days ago,” a man living in Qinghai’s Golog prefecture said. “I don’t know the exact number, but I heard that this time they are armed police. They are deployed in both urban and rural areas.”

He said police had detained 30-40 people, many of them Tibetan nomads. “Some just turned themselves in, but others were detained … A few soldiers on patrol were attacked by nomads a few days ago,” the man said.

He added that he and other small tradespeople like him had been told to write a political opinion of the protests, which Beijing says were orchestrated from exile by the Dalai Lama, with the intention of “splitting” China.

“I have been asked to write down my opinions about the riots and to write a condemnation of the Dalai Lama. Many other businessmen have been told to do the same. Of course you cannot write down whatever you want,” the man said.

But a monk in Draggo, Sichuan, said the crackdown had not changed the way Tibetans felt about the protests. “We still demand freedom,” the monk said.

A spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala said the Chinese government’s claim that the Dalai Lama masterminded anti-Chinese riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on March 14-15 was “nonsense.”

“Tibetans don’t need someone to tell them what to do,” Dawa Tsering told Mandarin service reporter Ding Xiao. “Many of them just do it, for instance like to make a speech, to spread and to disseminate information.”

“It is nonsense to accuse people of using the Internet to spread out information [about protests].”

“What Tibetans did belongs to the category of freedom of speech. It has nothing to do with inciting violence,” he said.

He added: “It is obvious that Beijing would love to see violence in this matter so that it can connect this with its anti-terror campaign, enabling it to crack down unscrupulously on the Tibetans, just like the way it deals with Xinjiang,” he said.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao and Qiao Long. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated by Jia Yuan. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie and edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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