China Moves To Arrest Hundreds as Tibet Deadline Passes

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Graphic: RFA >> View time-line one week Tibet unrest

KATHMANDU—Authorities in the Tibetan capital began arresting hundreds of people in the wake of anti-Chinese protests over the weekend as a deadline passed for those involved in the marches, demonstrations, and rioting to “surrender” to police.

One witness in Lhasa said armed police were rounding up “hundreds” of suspects, while reliable sources in Lhasa said municipal prosecutors had issued 150 arrest warrants by the deadline Monday for “escapees” still at large.

Another Lhasa resident said Tibetans were now being turned away from hospitals in the city.

“The Lhasa People’s Hospital has been damaged,” the source told RFA’s Tibetan service. “The local Tibetans suspect it was damaged by the Chinese so that injured Tibetans couldn’t receive treatment.”

“Tibetans who are taken to Lhasa hospitals are now being turned away,” the source added.

A Hong Kong businesswoman in Lhasa said the city was quieter, and that residents were beginning to venture outside to buy essential supplies. “Today is better so I can go out,” she told RFA’s Cantonese service.

The Lhasa People’s Hospital has been damaged, The local Tibetans suspect it was damaged by the Chinese so that injured Tibetans couldn’t receive treatment. Tibetans who are taken to Lhasa hospitals are now being turned away.

“Many people have come out to buy food as well. But many armed police are standing guard on the street and they are checking the identification of some passers-by,” she said.“There are a great many police on the street. The local government hasn’t asked us [non-mainland Chinese] to leave Lhasa. But if you want to leave, the Foreign Affairs Office will help you,” she added.

Meanwhile, authorities in areas of western China with large Tibetan populations banned all media reporting of anti-Chinese protests, asking foreign journalists and tourists to leave.

In a blistering editorial in the Communist Party’s Tibet flagship newspaper, the Tibet Daily, the government referred to demonstrators as “the enemy.”

“These lawless elements have insulted, beaten, and wounded duty personnel, shouted reactionary slogans, stormed vital departments, and gone to all lengths in beating, smashing, looting, and burning,” the paper said, repeating China’s official view that last week’s protests and rioting were instigated by the Dalai Lama from exile in northern India.

“Their atrocities are appalling and too horrible to look at, and their frenzy is inhuman. Their atrocities of various kinds teach and alert us to the fact that this is a life-and-death struggle between the enemy and ourselves.”

A protester at the Central Minorities University in Beijing said students there had staged a protest in silent defiance of the government.

“There are about 200 students in the Tibetan studies department of the Central Minorities University in Beijing—about 40 of them staged a silent protest to mourn the people killed or injured in other parts of Tibet,” the student said. “The police came in, and they are being held now in their classrooms.”

In the Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China’s Sichuan province, thousands of security forces were now on the streets following a series of marches and protests led by monks, in which protesters threw rocks at government buildings.

A Chinese woman from Ngaba told RFA’s Mandarin service: “Riots erupted in town and rural areas and there were many police on the streets, but I was not worried about my safety,” she said.

A resident who lives near a temple in the border area between Gansu and Sichuan provinces said that 400-500 monks took to the streets over the weekend.

“They smashed windows and then left in less than an hour. There were about 2,000 security forces who stayed on guard in this area,” the resident said.

Another local resident said riots had erupted in Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) and Luchu (in Chinese, Luqu) counties.

“Although the scale of protests was small, they still continue.” He added: “There are about 1,000 armed police stationed in each county.”

Chinese military in full riot gear are transported in the back of army trucks in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on 16 March, 2008. AFP

In Tongren county, Qinghai province, a local resident said, “Because of riots in Tibet, local authorities have taken measures to prevent protests from taking place here.”

“There were about 200 armed police in our county,” she said.

Foreign journalists working in the area were expelled after filming footage of the demonstrations in Xiahe. “The only road leading to Xiahe was blocked. All vehicles had to stop for inspection. Passengers’ IDs and vehicles’ plate numbers were checked and registered,” a British journalist said.

Queues of traffic formed leaving Gansu as well as entering it, as all vehicles and occupants were checked and searched.

Foreign tourists have been ordered to leave areas with Tibetan populations in Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu, according to sources in the travel industry.

“Tourists were ordered to leave the Ngaba area,” one tourism worker said. “Three groups of foreign tourists who just arrived here were told to leave immediately.”

A hotel employee from Tongren county, Qinghai, told Mandarin service reporter Ding Xiao: “No foreigners were allowed in the region.”

A tourist guide from Gansu province said: “The authorities are deleting any pictures they find related to the riots. They won’t let you take such things out.”

The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Sans Frontieres slammed China’s media blackout on the Tibetan unrest.

The group said Beijing had stopped issuing permits for foreign correspondents to enter Tibet sice March 12, and that at least 25 journalists, including 15 from Hong Kong, had reportedly been expelled from Tibet or Tibetan areas.

“The freedom of movement for foreign journalists had been one of the few positive developments ahead of the Olympic Games, but this is now being flouted by the Chinese government facing Tibetan protests,” RSF said in a statement.

“Yet again the Chinese government is trampling on the promises it made linked to the Olympics and has been preparing the ground to crackdown on the Tibetan revolt in the absence of witnesses.

Original reporting in the Uke, Amdo, and Kham Tibetan dialects by RFA Tibetan staff. Additional reporting by RFA’s Mandarin service. Translations by Karma Dorjee, Palden Gyal, and Luisetta Mudie. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written and produced in English by Luisetta Mudie and edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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