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2,000 Tibetans in Western China’s Qinghai Province Defy Crackdown as China Admits Shooting

Posted by Author on March 22, 2008

Radio Free Asia, 2008.03.20-

KATHMANDU— Thousands of Tibetans in western China’s Qinghai province are still defying a Chinese crackdown in the area, staging protests calling for peaceful dialogue with their exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

“In the Tsekhog [Zeku] area in Huangnan prefecture, the monks are continuing their peaceful protests as of March 20,” a protester told an Amdo dialect reporter from RFA’s Tibetan service.

“Roughly 2,000 Tibetans, both monks and laypersons, are involved in the protests. The protesters are calling for the Chinese leadership to open a peaceful dialogue with the Dalai Lama and resolve the Tibetan issue peacefully,” the protester said, over the sound of slogans being chanted.

The protesters, who live in a traditionally Tibetan area of Qinghai which is home to large numbers of nomadic herders, were demanding a meaningful autonomous status inclusive of all Tibetan areas, but within the People’s Republic of China, he added.

They were also demanding that the Chinese leadership allow the Dalai Lama to visit the Amdo region, a cry raised during protests in Lithang, a town in China’s Sichuan province, last summer.

“Right now there are no security forces in the area but we heard that they are coming. We have no freedom inside China,” the protester said. “We are right now protesting in front of the county government offices. We are about 2,000 protesters and we are protesting peacefully.”

Thousands of security forces have been drafted into traditionally Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces following last week’s crackdown in Lhasa during which armed police began shooting rioting protesters.

While some protesters have stormed government buildings, throwing stones and clashing with armed police who fired live ammunition and tear-gas, other protests have proceeded peacefully, with sit-ins and horseback charges by nomads carrying the banned Tibetan flag.

Residents of Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) autonomous prefecture in Sichuan said two monks were shot dead by Chinese armed police after they defied a police cordon set up around the Kirti monastery. Local residents also said a “massacre” had occurred during the clashes around Kirti.

While the reports were not immediately verifiable, China on Thursday admitted for the first time that its forces had fired on protesters during clashes in Sichuan.

The state-run news agency Xinhua said police acted in self-defense when they fired on the protesters on Sunday, in the government’s first admission its security forces have caused injuries in their crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.

Tibet authorities also said they had arrested dozens of people involved in the wave of protests that have swept the mountain region and prompted Beijing to pour in troops to crush further unrest.

In Ngaba, Chinese police were conducting door-to-door searches of all Tibetan homes in the area, sources in the region said.

“Pictures of the Dalai Lama or any articles, objects, or documents that are politically sensitive in nature are being confiscated,” one source said.

Police were also arresting any Tibetan found with such items in their home, he added. “Tibetans are also being told that they will be detained until the end of the Olympics, and once the Olympics are over, court proceedings will then begin,” he added……. (More details from Radio Free Asia)

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