What witnesses are saying

Witnesses report sporadic protests and a heavy Chinese security presence in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and neighboring Chinese provinces. Read what witnesses are telling RFA's Tibetan and Chinese services.


Following are first-hand accounts from people who spoke to RFA from Tuesday, March 18, onward. For security reasons, we do not identify some of our sources by name to protect them from retaliation. These accounts do not necessarily reflect the views of Radio Free Asia and may not have been independently confirmed:

Buddhist monks march in Xiahe, Gansu Province on March 14, 2008.
A caller from Lhasa, April 23, 2008:

“We are in hell now. When we go out to shop for groceries, we have to have two IDs: a residence permit and an ID issued by the Lhasa municipal government. We have been told not to leave [Lhasa] or to move around until the end of May. We are being forced to criticize the Dalai Lama. Many of us who rent shops or homes have been warned that if we have links to separatists, or if protestors are found in those properties, the property owners will be detained and punished. So it is hell here in Tibet.”

A caller from Kardze, April 23, 2008:

“On April 23 at around 1:00 p.m., two nuns protested in the Kardze town center. Their names are Bumo Lhaga, age 32, and Sonam Dechen, age 30, and they come from the Drakar nunnery in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] county [in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan province]. They began by distributing hand-written flyers calling for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet and saying that Tibet is independent. Chinese security officers saw the flyers and began to collect them, demanding to know who had distributed them.”

“Then, the nuns were observed on a street corner shouting slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and for freedom for Tibetans. They were quickly detained and taken away in a police vehicle. Even while being taken away, they continued to shout. They were taken to the Kardze detention center in the town, but no one knows whether they will be held at that same place or taken somewhere else. The nuns declared in their flyers that they were acting on their own and that the Drakar nunnery was not involved in their protest.”

An official at the Kardze Public Security Bureau Office:

“No nuns were arrested. I don’t know.”

From a caller in Tibet who said he is a member of the Communist Party, April 17, 2008:

“I want to be very candid. Tibetans inside Tibet sacrificed so many lives in these protests. They did it for a reason, and that reason was freedom. They did it for all Tibetans. This touches me deeply. I myself am a Tibetan, but a member of the Chinese Communist Party, and I work in an office. When I saw these sacrifices, I was greatly affected. One of the reasons I have for calling your radio is to appeal to all Tibetan organizations and to the Kashag [the cabinet of the Tibetan government-in-exile] to find ways to resolve the Tibetan issue. We have heard that all Tibetans living outside of Tibet are united. They should remain united. We pin our hopes on all those Tibetans living in foreign countries. Therefore, all Tibetan organizations and the Kashag should give serious thought to how to deal with the Chinese.”

“I heard that a Tibetan delegation spoke with China during the last year. I also heard that that dialogue did not bring any result. Nothing concrete will be achieved through dialogue. In the past, too, Tibetans discussed the 17-Point Agreement, but nothing concrete was achieved. Dialogue with the Chinese will not bring any results. No concrete result was ever achieved in past discussions with Chinese officials.”

“Now, the situation in Tibet is pathetic and very urgent. All Tibetans, and especially the elderly, are worried and frightened under Chinese rule. Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet must cooperate to bring freedom to Tibet.”

From a caller in Tibet, April 14, 2008:

“It is very difficult to give an exact number of people who were killed. One of the main reasons is that many were killed in the area of the Jokhang, and many of these had come from the Kham and Amdo regions to Lhasa for different reasons. Most of them did not have residence permits. Therefore, because of a lack of documentation, there is no way to verify who was killed. Over 100 Tibetans were killed. Many of my friends saw Tibetans being killed.”

“In the beginning, many injured Tibetan protesters were taken to Chinese hospitals, where they were treated. Later, when injured Tibetans were taken to hospitals, they were detained instead of receiving medical attention. In fact, on the second day of the protests, even Tibetans who had bruises were treated as suspects and detained. So Tibetans who were injured had no choice but to wait for death … “

“Now, the situation for Tibetans in Lhasa is very tense. If a Tibetan argues over prices with a Chinese grocery-shop owner, the shop owner calls the police and the Tibetan is detained as a suspect. Any Tibetan without a residence permit is also detained. Even elderly Tibetans who cannot walk straight and Tibetan schoolchildren are searched. The Han Chinese don’t need residence permits. Their spoken Mandarin language is itself their permit.”


“On March 10, three monks began a peaceful protest supported by a Tibetan who ran a stall in the market area, Tromsik Khang. They took out Tibetan flags and protested. According to security officials, the monks were from Sera monastery. All three were detained and beaten up. On that same day, a group of armed police was sent toward Drepung monastery, since monks from Drepung were coming toward Lhasa. When the police stopped them, the monks demanded to know why they could not go to their homes, and there were arguments and some clashes. On March 12-13, monks at Sera monastery rose up and protested. I had actually planned to visit Sera on March 12, but all vehicles were being stopped at the Lhasa Middle School and no one was allowed to proceed beyond that point. Some of our friends were also stopped at the same place. Then we heard that monks at Ganden monastery had risen in protest. Lhasa city couldn’t send enough police, so a small contingent of police from the city went to Taktse county and ordered all young county government workers to report to Ganden. Chinese soldiers were also sent along.”

“On March 14, I was approaching the Jokhang temple, also called the Tsuglakhang, and found that all roads leading to the Ramoche monastery had been blocked. When I arrived at Ramoche, the monastery itself was blocked by police vehicles. Suddenly the Ramoche monks rushed out in protest. They overturned one or two police vehicles and ran back inside the monastery. A large group of Tibetan youths who had gathered there watched all this, and when the police began to verbally threaten them, they threw stones at the police. The police chased them, and many of them ran away.”

“When they ran past the water fountain in the Tibetan market at Tromsik Khang, many young Khampas in the area began to rush toward Ramoche. They also fought the police with stones. At that time, many Khampas gathered in front of the Tsuglakhang. When I arrived there, some of them were offering scarves in the direction of the Jokhang. Some of them had covered their faces with scarves. One Khampa stood on a vehicle in front of the Tsuglakhang and shouted, ‘If you are Tibetans, you should rise up!’ Then he got down and set fire to the three police vehicles in front of the Tsuglakhang.”

“Later, they marched toward the headquarters of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, shouting that there were too many Chinese in Lhasa and that inflation was harming Tibetans. At that time, we heard the sound of armored personnel carriers, and people began to shout that troops had arrived. Armed police chased the protesters away, and sometimes the protesters chased the police away. On that same day, Tibetans in other areas of Lhasa rose up, and the protests spread to other areas. The Chinese authorities in Lhasa blamed the Dalai Lama for all of these protests.”

“I personally saw six Tibetans who had been killed in one day. [At] Ani Tsangku in Lhasa there is a hospital. People told me that five or six Tibetans died there. When some Tibetans went to see them, they saw the bodies along with offerings of lamps. Some Tibetans I knew were also killed. One, a Tibetan from Luphuk named Lhakpa Tsering, used to drive tourist vehicles. His friends called him by the nickname Hala Hala. He was hit in his head and died. While I was in the crowd, I heard someone shout ‘I’m hit!’ When he came closer, I saw that his pants had been punctured with several holes. The police used special ammunition that mushrooms when it hits its target. Later, this man fainted, and his face turned yellow. I told the people nearby to bind his leg with a scarf.”

“When I went to fetch some water for him, I saw another Khampa who had been hit and was bleeding. Later, I heard that the young boy died. He was only around 16. He had not even been in the protests. Even Lhakpa Tsering, who was killed, had gone to the hospital to see his mother and was shot on his way back. There was also a young girl of about 16 who had been shot. Her whole body was covered in blood—we could see only her white hand. Her mother was crying, since the girl was her only child. When other Tibetans tried to console her by putting some money in a box, she threw the box away. She said that her daughter had died in a good cause and that she had no regrets.”

“So many Tibetans were detained. Through the window of my guesthouse, I saw many being taken away. If we had looked out with the lights on, we might have been shot, since there were many armed police around with rifles ready to fire. So I watched from my window after switching off the light. Fifty or 60 armed police raided Tibetan houses and took Tibetans away. One night, I saw a Tibetan whose hands had been tied and pulled up behind his back. As he was being dragged away, he stumbled over a drain and fell. They beat him, and I heard them saying in Chinese, ‘Shoot him!’ ‘Kill him!’ On March 14 and 15, gunshots could be heard going off just like fireworks during festivities. We weren’t allowed to go out. I also saw many young Chinese and Tibetan girls and women dressed in Tibetan clothes. I was told that they were all Chinese informers and that several of them had been ‘planted’ in the community.”

“Chinese propaganda blames the Dalai Lama for all of this. As a Tibetan, I feel pain deep in my heart when I see him blamed for something he never did. I have even seen him criticized by many Tibetans. One old lady who had been the wife of Kunphel-la, a government minister at the time of the 13th Dalai Lama, was criticizing him with a loud voice. Many of them could have been coerced to do this by the Chinese, but they were blaming His Holiness with great ferocity. I was surprised to hear them using such language to criticize him. However, other Tibetans that I met heard through the radio of similar protests in other parts of Tibet, and they felt a great sense of achievement. They shared information with each other and knew what was going on in other regions of Tibet.”

Tibetan students at Lanzhou’s Northwest National University staged a peaceful demonstration on the university ground. Eyewitness photo.

“The Tibetans have really been pushed into a corner. There are so many Chinese in Lhasa. I used to see Tibetan youths hanging out on every street corner when I visited in 1989. Now, there are Chinese everywhere. I’m not sure whether this is true, but I heard that over 10,000 Chinese immigrants will be settled in a new residential complex in Liwu, with another 10,000 being settled in the new city complex in Phenpo. The present concentration of Tibetan people in the Barkhor area will be dispersed and moved to high-rise complexes in different parts of the Lhasa area. All of these plans are to be carried out after the Olympics.”

“While I was still in Lhasa, I heard that the city government had issued a wanted list of several persons. The first on the list was the Khampa who had stood on the Chinese vehicle and called on the Tibetans to rise up. Later, I heard he had been arrested at the airport. He was alive when he was taken in for interrogation, but he was brought out dead. A second person was brought out with broken arms and legs, and no one knew whether he was alive or dead.”

“Many Tibetans hoped that foreign reporters could be there. Others said this wasn’t necessary, since Americans could take photos of the protests from satellite cameras. They hoped so much that foreigners could spread the word and tell their story to the world. There are many prisons in the Lhasa area. All of them were packed with detained Tibetans. One Tibetan that I know, a driver, went to a detention center and saw Tibetans held together in a huge cell. Most of them were naked. They had no toilets and no water, and all of them had to defecate in the same cell. From my guest house, I myself saw over 100 Tibetans being taken away. People even saw five or six army trucks in the area of Lhalu. The vehicles were packed with Tibetans with tied hands who were being escorted by Chinese paramilitary… I think more than 1,000 Tibetans were detained.”—Tibetan man, resident in the United Kingdom, who witnessed the March protests in Lhasa and ensuing crackdown

“Within a short period, about 200 Tibetans were detained. In the midst of the commotion, it was hard to tell who was alive or dead and who was taken away. I saw some Chinese with head injuries. Then, my sister told me that she had seen nine Tibetan bodies in the area of Luphuk. I myself saw a Tibetan woman and a man lying dead in Ani Tsangku hospital. When I arrived at the Lhasa City People’s Hospital, I saw three Tibetans being brought in. One of the injured was Tenzin Norbu from Kham Pelbar. His sister brought him in, and I recognized him. He had been shot in the head, and the hospital suggested that he should be taken to the TAR People’s Hospital. He was vomiting and may not have survived. That boy was very young—about 21 or 22—and according to his sister he was a student in a school just below Sera monastery. Another youth had also been shot in the head. He was bleeding heavily, and there was little hope for his survival. Another Tibetan youth had been hit in the hip and had about four bullet wounds.”

“I thought that this [the uprising] was the right thing to do. I participated in the protests and was among the protesters in the area of Ramoche monastery for about two hours. I knew that the protests were expressions of Tibetan despair over Chinese oppression in our own country. The actual suppression and crackdown by Chinese forces began on the night of March 14. At roughly around 8:00 p.m., Tibetans in the Lhasa area heard that Chinese forces were coming. Many left and went to their homes, while others continued their protests. That very night I saw many Tibetans being taken away and Chinese armed police firing on Tibetans.”

“I saw them myself. I heard gunshots on March 14, 15, 16. One of those who died in Luphuk was Lhakpa Tsering. He was known to us. He is survived by a young daughter. He was from Toelung Dechen and worked as a driver. He died on Friday and his funeral was planned for the following Monday, but local officials took his body for a post mortem because of the gunshot wound to his head. Later, they handed over some ashes in place of his body. Most of the Tibetan families whose loved ones were killed could not be traced. It was difficult to know whether they were alive or dead or under detention. Most of the dead bodies were taken away and disposed of by the Chinese.”

“While I was in Lhasa, I heard that Tibetans who were detained were not taken to Drapchi or Toelung jail because of unrest in those places. So many were taken to the Gutsa and Nyethang detention centers near the railway station. About 200 Tibetans were detained and interrogated at Nyethang. Even in Phenpo Lhundrub county, the Chinese television showed protests by farmers, monks, and students. The Chinese ran programs saying that the protesters had surrendered to government authorities. But when I talked with some people from Phenpo, they denied having surrendered and said the Chinese authorities were telling lies.”—Tibetan woman who lives in Australia who participated in RFA-Tibetan’s Round Table discussion April 5. She was in Lhasa during the protests.

“In Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) county (Tibet Autonomous Region), the local Chinese authorities have issued a government circular stating that the local people and authorities should watch for any Tibetan who comes from the areas of Amdo and Kham Ganzi (in Tibetan, Kardze). In Chamdo city, there was no unrest. Most of the residents are government workers. However, there is a large group of armed police in the town. On April 2, the government informed local government workers and the local population to be vigilant for Tibetans from the areas of Ganzi and Amdo. According to the government memorandum, local authorities are authorized to detain any Tibetan who enters Chamdo from those two areas. Such restrictions cause tremendous hardship for Tibetans who travel on business or who work at day-labor jobs.” —Tibetan source in Chamdo, speaking with RFA reporter in Australia, April 2, 2008

Map of the protest areas.
“There was an explosion at a place close to a town in Gonjo (in Chinese, Gongjue) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region. At this place, there is a house used by county and subdistrict government workers as their residence. Recently, this building was badly damaged in an explosion, though the exact date and time this took place is not clear. When the site was examined, four explosive devices were found, only two of which had actually exploded. None of the occupants of the building was hurt.” —Tibetan source, speaking with RFA reporter in Australia, April 2, 2008

“On March 28, a monk named Tsering Dorje from Nyera monastery in Pashoe (in Chinese, Basu) county in the Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) prefecture (Tibet Autonomous Region) was detained by Chinese police. He had gone to the county government center and put up posters demanding religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. Since armed police were in the area, he was quickly taken away. Local Tibetans believe that he was locked up in the local jail. Over a hundred monks from Nyera monastery set out to the county center to demand his release, but were persuaded by the abbot and senior monks not to go.” —Tibetan source, speaking with RFA’s Tibetan service, April 2, 2008

“Huge contingents of Chinese armed police are deployed close to the main monasteries in Kham. There are 2,000 at Palyul (in Chinese, Baiyu).There are about 500 at the Tromtak Buddhist Center, and about 1,000 at Horpo, which is very close to Katok monastery. Armed police are entering monasteries and ransacking monks’ quarters and the residences of head lamas. When they find photographs of the Dalai Lama, the police seize the pictures and blame the monks for having them. Local Tibetans have been warned not to move about after 9:00 p.m. If anyone is found after that hour, they will be detained for three months. They have also been warned that when groups of armed police move through the towns, no one is allowed to block their way, and that if anyone does this, they may be killed with no complaints allowed or compensation given. At Palyul monastery, the Chinese have ordered the monks to fly the Chinese flag from the monastery roof, but Palyul has not complied. The Chinese have launched campaigns to criticize the Dalai Lama and are showing propaganda films describing the involvement of ‘the Dalai clique’ [in the recent unrest] and accusing Tibetans of attacking mosques and Han Chinese shops and restaurants in Lhasa. Senior lamas are being forced to denounce the Dalai Lama and are not permitted to freely move around.” —Tibetan source in Kham, speaking with RFA’s Tibetan service, April 2, 2008

“I am caught in the middle. I don’t know what to say. I am a Tibetan, but I am also a government employee. I am not comfortable with expressing my own opinion.” —Tibetan civil servant who lives near Labrang monastery in Xiahe (in Tibetan, Sangchu) county, Gansu province, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, April 2, 2008

“I don’t buy what [Chinese government-controlled] television has said, but I cannot talk to you on the phone.” —Tibetan woman in Ganzi (in Tibetan, Kardze) prefecture, Sichuan province, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, April 2, 2008

“It’s taboo even to mention the name of the Dalai Lama.” —Tibetan college student in Chengdu, Sichuan province, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, April 2, 2008

“They were killed by troops on March 14.” —Tibetan woman in Zhuoni (in Tibetan, Chone) county (Gannan/Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu province), confirming that monks were killed by Chinese forces during an earlier protest in the area, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, March 31, 2008

“An armed-forces division from Wuhan, in Hubei province, has been deployed in the area of Zhuoni (in Tibetan, Chone) county (Gannan/Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu province). Armed police are trying to arrest Tibetans who remain at large. There are still some sporadic riots.” —Gansu man, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, March 30, 2008

“Many armed police are still stationed near the Langmu monastery that is located in Sichuan province. There are two Langmu monasteries; one is in Sichuan, while the other is [across the province border] in Gansu. Only the monks in the Langmu monastery in Sichuan are still protesting. There have been no confrontations, but tourists are not allowed to go there.” —Local Tibetan man, to RFA’s Mandarin service, March 30, 2008

“We still demand freedom.” —Tibetan monk in Luhuo (in Tibetan, Draggo) county (Ganzi/Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan province), to RFA’s Mandarin service, March 30, 2008

“More troops arrived here a couple of days ago. 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. About 30 to 40 people were detained; many of them are local nomads. Some just turned themselves in, but others were detained … A few soldiers on patrol were attacked by nomads a few days ago … 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.”—Resident of Jiuzhi (in Tibetan, Chigdril) county (Guoluo/Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, March 30, 2008

“I was punished for taking that interview.”—Government official in Ganzi (in Tibetan, Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan province who had spoken earlier with RFA to confirm riots in the area, speaking with RFA’s Mandarin service, March 30, 2008

“We are not clear on the situation. We do not go out that much … Let’s not talk about it. Please, I implore you ….”—Tibetan woman living near Lhasa, to RFA’s Mandarin service, March 27, 2008

“Things should be okay now. Only a couple of days ago, there were troops at every intersection. There was trouble in some areas, but things were quiet in other areas. The troops pulled away yesterday … There must still be troops [in the monasteries].”—Han Chinese woman who owns a shop in Lhasa, speaking to RFA’s Mandarin service, March 27, 2008

“They detained a lot of Tibetans. Those who committed serious crimes are being detained. Those whose offenses were not so serious have been released … [Those who were detained] were being hauled to our side of the county one car load after another.”—Han Chinese woman living in Zhuoni county in the southern part of Gansu province, speaking to RFA’s Mandarin service, March 27, 2008

“On Monday, about 1,000 people, including hundreds of monks from the Jueri [probably Chogri, in Tibetan] monastery and nuns from the Woge [probably Ngokhog, in Tibetan] nunnery, took part in a protest in Luhuo county [Ganzi/Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture]. Chinese police killed a lama. They fired shots at the lamas and killed one. He was chanting ‘Free Tibet!’ We were marching. The troops blocked the road and fired shots. Monday night, they detained about 30 lamas … On Tuesday, more than 200 lamas from Shouling [Tibetan name unknown] monastery, also in Luhuo county, took to the streets. I joined them. We were chanting ‘We want freedom!’ as we marched. There were about 100 troops there, but there was no confrontation. I don’t think anyone took to the streets today, because we were not allowed to go out today. The entrance to the monastery is manned by armed guards.”—Tibetan monk, speaking to RFA’s Mandarin service, March 26, 2008

“Right now, we are protesting in the area of Tsolho. We are demanding that the Chinese leadership open a dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and peacefully resolve the Tibetan issue. We are also demanding that His Holiness be allowed to visit Tibet. Our protest is peaceful and involves about ten to fifteen monks from Serlho monastery in the Tsolho (in Chinese, Hainan) prefecture. Just now we are marching toward the subdistrict headquarters, and from there we plan to go to the county government center. Hundreds of local Tibetans, mainly nomads, have joined us ... We have marched about four to five miles from Serlho monastery, but we fear that the Chinese security forces will not allow us to proceed to Shang and the county government center. This protest march is also an expression of our support to those Tibetans who launched peaceful protests in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet. Now, security forces seem to be coming. Thank you. Please let others know what we are doing and broadcast it to the world.” —Monk protester, speaking live during protest march, in interview with RFA’s Tibetan service, March 22, 2008

“On March 18, we—the monks of Palyul Darthang monastery in Amdo Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo)—marched to the local county government center. There were about 300 of us, joined by local Tibetans. At that time, there were no PAP there, but only about 40 local police. We marched to the local government office compound, pulled down the Chinese flag, and put up the Tibetan flag. The local police didn’t dare to interfere. They simply watched from a distance and took photographs. We then marched to the local school and hospital and pulled down the Chinese flag and replaced it with the Tibetan flag. We also stormed the local detention center and demanded that the authorities release all the prisoners, which they did. We conducted all these protests peacefully, harmed no one, and did no damage. Then, later in the afternoon, four trucks full of armed security forces arrived ... They arrested about five to six Tibetans, and possibly more. Right now, only those monks who took no part in the protest are still in the monastery. The rest are hiding up in the mountains. The head monks are being pressured to hand over the main culprits. [The Chinese] are also announcing that anyone who surrenders voluntarily will be spared. The rest will face ‘serious consequences.’ The monastery is now surrounded by security forces. Please let others know what we did and what our condition is. Thanks.”—Monk at Palyul Darthang, speaking to RFA’s Tibetan service, March 22, 2008

“On March 20, Chinese security forces arrived in the town of Kiku in Serthar (Seda, in Chinese) county. There were about 1,000 of them. They tried to pull down the Tibetan flag that had been raised by protestors at the town headquarters building on the 17th, and when the protestors peacefully resisted, the security forces opened fire, killing two protestors. Their names were Kyari and Tsedo. Both were from Tseshul village. Another eight persons, including Yeshe Dorje and Tabke, were seriously wounded and were taken to Serthar county hospital. In the same county, over 1,000 Tibetans led by monks from Serthar Sera monastery began a protest march, walking about 30 miles to the point where the two Tibetans were killed. They carried Tibetan flags and pictures of the Dalai Lama and shouted slogans like ‘Long Live the Dalai Lama!,’ ‘Human Rights for Tibet!,’ and ‘Tibet is Independent!’ They also distributed leaflets calling for Tibetan independence. The security forces threatened them with ‘serious consequences,’ but the protestors are determined to continue with their peaceful demonstrations. So far, there have been no [additional] shootings.”— Source in Serthar, interviewed by RFA Tibetan service, March 21, 2008.

“I am in Lhasa at my brother’s house, but we cannot go into the town. The security forces have blocked everything off … Those who have residence permits are allowed to move around, but those who don’t are not allowed to go out. On the 15th and 16th, any Tibetan going out was detained. Now, the Chinese security forces are still blocking us. Chinese security personnel are bringing photos taken by security forces and asking people if they know who these persons are and where they can be found. We heard that one monk was recently arrested. The Chinese have jammed RFA and VOA broadcasts, and we can not hear programs in Lhasa.”—Tibetan American citizen who is still in Lhasa, interviewed by RFA Tibetan service, March 20, 2008.

“Many Chinese security forces have arrived in the Serkar monastery in the Kham Gapa area to impart re-education programs among the monks. But all the monks refused to participate in the program and instead raised slogans demanding religious freedom and human rights. There are around 500 monks. The Chinese army before leaving the monastery threatened the monks that they were going to come back the next day to deal with them. I have not received any further information after that.”—Tibetan witness in Ngaba [Aba], March 20, 2008.

“In Qinghai, Tibetan students from the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous area protested on March 19. There are about 800 students, and roughly 400 participated in the protests. They brought down Chinese flags and set them on fire. Security forces came in and the student protesters were surrounded. The local security forces issued a warning that they have orders to shoot anyone if they create problems in the area. The Tibetan students aren’t allowed to make any contact with other Tibetans in the area for fear of protests.”—Source in Qinghai, March 20, 2008

“In the Tseko area of Amdo, the monks are continuing peaceful protests as of March 20. About 2,000 Tibetans, both monk and laypersons, are involved in the protests. The protesters are calling for the Chinese leadership to open peaceful dialogue with the Dalai Lama and resolve the Tibetan issue peaceful. They are demanding a meaningful autonomous status inclusive of all Tibetan areas. They were also demanding the Chinese leadership to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the Amdo region. Right now there are no security forces in the area but we heard that they are coming. We have no freedom inside. We are right now protesting in front of county government offices. We are about 2,000 protestors, and we are protesting peacefully.”—Amdo protester, speaking above the sound of a demonstration to RFA-Tibetan, March 20

“As of today, the Chinese police are conducting house-to-house searches of all Tibetan homes in the Amdo Ngaba [Aba] area. Pictures of Dalai Lama or any articles, objects, and documents that are politically sensitive in nature are being confiscated—and at the same, they arrest Tibetans when any such items are found in their homes. Tibetans are also told that they will be detained until the end of Olympics and once the Olympics are over, court proceedings will then begin.” —Tibetan witness in Ngaba, March 20

“We must show IDs when going in and out of the city. The curfew is still in effect and the streets are basically abandoned. The shops are not doing much business. People are staying home.”—Tibetan resident of Lhasa, speaking to RFA-Mandarin, March 20

“People are getting arrested for saying even one sentence that they oughtn’t say. I am scared. I cannot tell you anything.”—Tibetan woman resident of Lhasa, speaking to RFA-Mandarin, March 20

“A lot of people have been arrested. I have been staying home and haven’t been able to keep in touch with my friends. My cell phone has no signal. When people call me on my cell phone the message says it’s turned off. But in fact I never turned it off.”—Tibetan man, resident of Lhasa, speaking to RFA-Mandarin, March 20

“In Lhasa, Tibetans without IDs are being detained—regardless whether they participated in the protest. A lot of Tibetans are nomadic herdsmen who don't carry IDs. Prisons in Lhasa are filled to capacity.”—Spokesman, Tibetan exile government, speaking to RFA-Mandarin, March 20

“Last night 60 police trucks arrived in Bora area. Seven to 10 were already placed in the area. But this morning all 60 police trucks were gone. Monks in the local monasteries aren’t allowed out and those who are outside aren’t allowed in. On March 18, Tibetans from different remote areas came to the county center on horses, and many young Tibetans come on motorcycles. The motorcycles were run over by Chinese police trucks and over 30 of them completely crushed. So far there are no reports of arrests and shooting in this area.”—Kunchok Gyatso, of Drepung Goman monastery in India, after speaking with sources in Bora

“In Lhasa, many Tibetans are being arrested. Just this morning I saw three Tibetans arrested in the Taring market area. They were severely beaten and then handcuffed and taken away. Additional troops are said to have been called from China and the Kongpo area. Tibetans who go into town are being searched. Male Tibetans and youths are thoroughly searched, but they go a little easier on the women. They search their handbags but not their whole body. It is frightening to see Lhasa entirely filled with armed forces. The license plates of Chinese armored vehicles are covered in order to mask their [unit] identity.”—Tibetan witness in Lhasa

“There is no peace in Karze city. As of yesterday, one person was killed and nine were beaten and taken away. The families of those who were taken away have no hope of seeing their relatives alive; they are just waiting for the bodies. However, the families have no regrets and believe that they have died for a good cause. Meanwhile, seven more Tibetans were arrested: Gyurme, Penpa, Dorje, Jamyang, Kunga, Chime Gonpo, and Namsa Wangden. No Tibetan is allowed to move freely near the main Karze County Center—only the People’s Armed Police (PAP) can go there. The local county government officials have no authority, and administrative control has been taken over by the PAP. Local people saw the arrival of 40 new vehicles and two planes and estimate that close to 10,000 armed police are now here.”—Tibetan witness in Karze

“The Tibetan students at the Maerkang Normal College—their homes and parents are in Ngawa [Aba]. They heard some rumors and wanted to go back home. The school stopped them from going, saying that it would be safer on campus. I am not sure on which day the clash occurred. But there is a curfew in place on campus and from March 15 the students haven’t been allowed to go home. When they are on campus, their safety is assured. The school is concerned about people causing trouble.”—Han Chinese teacher at Maerkang Normal College, Maerkang county, Gansu province, interviewed by RFA’s Mandarin service

“It is inconvenient for me to talk about the situation. I cannot reach my folks back home by phone. I kept calling but kept getting a busy signal and could not get through. I am deeply concerned about my family’s well-being. I know nothing about what’s happening there. Communication channels are not working.”—Tibetan student enrolled at the Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu, interviewed by RFA’s Mandarin service

The World Community Cannot Turn a Blind Eye, Rebiya Kadeer

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama has dedicated his entire life to the peaceful promotion of legitimate aspirations of the Tibetan people for cultural autonomy and survival,” more

“It is inconvenient for me to talk. My cell phone is under surveillance. I cannot tell you if there have been protests on campus. It’s inconvenient…”—Tibetan university student in Shanghai, interviewed by RFA’s Mandarin service

“All major thoroughfares leading to the Tibet Autonomous Region’s office in Chengdu are manned by riot police and also armed police sitting in cars waiting. I walked around the neighborhood and saw no fewer than 60 vehicles, including minivans and cars, with tags indicating that they were from public security. All cars traveling toward the direction of the TAR office are subject to inspection. Car trunks are searched. The drivers must get out of the cars and show their IDs.”—Huang Xiaomin, a Han Chinese activist in Chengdu, interviewed by RFA’s Mandarin service

“Using Free Gate, I was able to see on the Internet that in Lhasa protesting monks were dealt with in a very rough manner, and that even tanks were mobilized. I think it was too much. I heard that people died. I used to work in areas with a lot of Tibetans. I have known many ethnic minorities. I am especially fond of Tibetans. Let me give you an example. If I lack food and water, I can knock on the door of any Tibetan home and they will take care of me. They will give me food and shelter. This actually happened to me and five or six of my friends. If they really tried to cause trouble, it was most likely because there was something inappropriate about our policy. I call on our Tibetan friends not to hate all Han Chinese. I am deeply saddened by what I saw –tanks…Where there are tanks, bad things happen…”—Beijing-based Chinese caller to RFA’s Mandarin-language Listener Hotline program

“A total of 18 dead bodies were confirmed in the Ngaba [Aba] protests. In Kirti monastery alone, 15 bodies were brought in for final death-rites. Three bodies were also confirmed in a neighboring nomadic area. There are many other monasteries in the Ngaba area, and other bodies could have been brought to these monasteries for final rites. So 18 deaths are confirmed for this area...They don’t dare go to Chinese hospitals and are receiving treatment at home.”—Tibetan witness account

What Asian listeners are saying
On our message boards, blogs, in emails and talk shows over the air, Asian listeners and Web readers react to Tibetan turmoil.

From the Vietnamese message board:
Can RFA, please, explain for me: why none of the 700 newspapers in Vietnam has the stories on Tibetan unrest? What are they afraid of or are they waiting for Vietnamese government’s order? U Nguyen Thai - Saigon, March 15, 2008.

“Chinese police backed by the People’s Armed Police [PAP] are raiding Tibetan houses in the Lhasa area. They are looking for residential permits, and if anyone doesn’t have these permits they are taken away without explanation. Even those Tibetans who have the permits, but who are suspected for any reason, are taken away. For example, around 10 p.m. on March 15, a group of police backed by the PAP began raiding Tibetan houses. One family from Kham Tsawa Pasho was raided. The father Kalsang Gyaltsen has two sons, Lochoe and Jampa, and a daughter. The daughter had a residential permit, and the other family members had applied for permits, but these were still pending. So the Chinese police arrested the father and two sons and took them away. The daughter has no idea where they were taken. The police searched the house and found 10,000 yuan, since the family were running a small stall in the area ... The police did not listen to their pleas and took the money ... The daughter has been left in the house all alone with no money and does not know where her father and brothers are detained. She is extremely worried and concerned about their welfare. In the same courtyard there was another family from Kham Dege in Sichuan. The father’s name is Tsonyi, and he also has two sons. That same night, their house was raided and they were also arrested. It is said that all six members of these families are innocent and did not participate in the protests. As policy, the Chinese are arresting almost all young Tibetans—both male and female. Nobody knows where they are taken, and if anyone tries to leave their own courtyard they can be arrested. There is no way to ask about or search for family members. Nobody knows if they are being killed, detained, or beaten, or even if they are alive or dead, and there is no way to find out. So there is virtual terror in Lhasa.”—Jampel from Canada, who called his relatives in Lhasa

“On March 18, around 2:05 p.m., a protest took place in Karze [in Chinese, Ganzi] town, Sichuan province. ...Both monks and laypersons took part. It was led by two people, Pema Dechen and Ngoga. The protesters shouted ‘Long live the Dalai Lama,’ and ‘Free Tibet,’ and they distributed leaflets. Several hundred paramilitary police were stationed there to block them… When the protests went on, the Chinese authorities arrested 10 protesters. Some of those who were arrested are Pema Dechen, Gonpo, Tseten Phuntsog, Lobsang, Zangpo, Palden, Gonpo, and so on. One person, Ngoga, who led the demonstration, was killed by gunfire. The other nine were dragged away, and they looked injured, but it wasn’t clear... Now all Karze is filled with Chinese police and paramilitary. Not one Tibetan is allowed to go out or move in the downtown area.”—Tibetan source in Karze [Ganzi], Sichuan province “More than 200 monks from Dargye monastery came out to protest, but a Chinese spy informed the Chinese authorities. So when the protesters were marching towards Karze downtown, the Chinese police stopped them on the way. The monks protested, and one monk was killed by gunfire.”—Tibetan source in Karze [Ganzi], Sichuan province

“Yesterday and the day before, students from our school [the Tibet Institute of Nationalities in Xianyang, Shanxi province] shouted lots of protest slogans. The university residence building has seven floors and most of the slogans were coming from the third to the seventh floors. Students were throwing thermos flasks and other articles from the top of the building down to the street. There are around 1,000 Tibetans students in the school. Today the school authorities called all the students to a big meeting, where they told us that anyone involved in the incident must submit a written confession and warned that those who are party cadres will lose their party membership. There is no police presence at the school so far. However, we are told at the meeting that this whole incident will be reported to the provincial government, and they will take all the necessary action.”—Tibetan student at the Tibet Institute of Nationalities in Xianyang, Shanxi province

“I told you earlier about a man who died from a gunshot. Yesterday, his family had planned to take his body away for a funeral, but then the police came to their house and seized the dead body. The police told the family that they are taking away all the dead bodies to conduct post-mortem and other investigation. They were also told that all the dead bodies in the recent unrest will be cremated together, and that prior to the cremation, the individual families will be contacted and that they will be allowed to pay a visit to the cremation site after the cremation. With this, the dead body was forcibly taken away with the family powerless to do or say anything.”—Tibetan eyewitness in Lhasa

“Lhasa in general is under heavy security. There’s a lot of cleaning up going on after all the recent destruction. Within the city, people are able to go around with their city identity cards but anyone from outside such as pilgrims, or tourists, is barred from entering the city or leaving the city if they are here. I came on a pilgrimage and for the last four days I holed up in my guesthouse, not able to travel or take a walk outside.”—Tibetan source in Lhasa

“More than 300 Tibetans protested in Lithang on March 18. While leading the demonstration, a girl [known as Appa Bumo] carried a picture of the Dalai Lama and a khata [scarf] in her hands. She was arrested by the Chinese security personnel. There is a heavy presence of Chinese military and restrictions have been imposed in the area. All the news media are blocked. Schools, offices, and shops are closed.”—Tibetan witness in Lithang

Following are interviews with Tibetan and Chinese sources on Monday, March 17:

“Today is better, so I can go out. Many people have come out to buy food, too. But there are many armed police standing guard on the street and checking the identification of some passers-by. There are many police on the street. The local government hasn’t asked us foreigners to leave Lhasa, but if you want to go, the Foreign Office will help you.”—Hong Kong businesswoman in Lhasa

“There are about 2,000 students in the Tibetan studies department of the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing—about 40 of them staged a silent protest to mourn the people killed or injured in other parts of Tibet. The police came in, and they are being held now in their classrooms.”—Protest participant, Tibetan, in Beijing

“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.”—Tibetan source who declined to be identified

“Monks from a local temple had a clash with armed police, and there were casualties from the armed police.”—Tibetan resident in Ngaba [Aba], Sichuan province

“Riots erupted in town and in rural areas, and there were many police on the streets, but I was not worried about my safety.”—Chinese resident in Ngaba [Aba], Sichuan province

“Tourists were ordered to leave the Ngaba [Aba] area. Three groups of foreign tourists who just arrived here were told to leave immediately.”—Chinese hotel worker in Ngaba, Sichuan province

“On Saturday afternoon, about 400-500 monks took to the streets. They smashed windows and left in less than an hour. There were about 2,000 soldiers who stayed to guard the area.”—Chinese witness who lives near a temple at the junction between Gansu and Sichuan

“Although the scale of protests was small, they still continue…There were about 1,000 armed police stationed in each county, Machu [Maqu] and Luchu [Luqu].”—Chinese witness, describing ongoing protests that began March 14

“Because of riots in Tibet, local authorities has took measures to prevent protests from taking place here. There were about 200 armed police in our county.”—Chinese resident in Tongren county, Qinghai province

“No foreigners are being allowed into the region.”—Hotel worker in Tongren county, Qinghai province

“We could not find hotels …in Xiahe, Gansu province. We were expelled from Xiahe after we finished our coverage. We tried to enter Xiahe again, but we weren’t allowed. Our IDs were carefully examined by roadside checkpoints. 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. Journalists couldn’t sneak in. All vehicles leaving Gansu were also carefully examined just as they entered the province. There was a backup of vehicles leaving Gansu.”—British journalist

“They [the police] are deleting all the photos they find of the riots. They won’t let people bring these things out.”—Tour guide, Gansu province

Following are excerpted interviews from Tibetan sources who spoke with RFA on Sunday, March 16, 2008: “Just now eight bodies have arrived in Kirti monastery.”—Source at Kirti monastery, Ngaba [in Chinese, Aba] prefecture, Sichuan province

“Four Tibetans were killed by sniper fire while they were marching near Kirti monastery… Then a little later, another three were killed. They were shot from a distance. Before they were shot, the protesters had smashed the windows at two police posts....There looked like 5,000 to 6,000 protesters....The names of the three people killed later are Tsezin, Norbu, and Lobsang Tashi.”—Tibetan protester from Ngaba [in Chinese, Aba] prefecture, Sichuan province

“On March 15, there were protests in Kham Tawo ([in Chinese, Daofu] in Ganzi prefecture. Suddenly 10 PAP trucks arrived…Kham Sershul monastery was surrounded by PAP. They are patrolling streets and randomly checking IDs—the situation is very tense.”—Tibetan witness in the Kham region, Karze [in Chinese, Ganzi], Sichuan province

“Five Tibetans succumbed to injuries at the nunnery hospital in Lhasa—it’s the Tsangkhug nunnery in Lhasa. Two Tibetans who were at the hospital were injured and they complained their legs were broken. The body of a young boy is still lying here unclaimed. Several other dead bodies were brought, and many of them were claimed by relatives.”—Source inside Tsangkhug nunnery, Lhasa

“I haven’t been back to my house for two days now. There are troops all over, and we are completely locked inside. I have no information about what is happening outside.”—Tibetan resident of Lhasa

“The Chinese authorities in Lhasa have started arresting Tibetans and searching from house to house. Official warnings were issued to all Tibetan residents of Lhasa that all Tibetan houses will be searched for photos of the Dalai Lama and for Tibetans who were involved in the riots. They were warned that no one should attempt to stop the searches and arrests, and people are not allowed to gather in groups when arrests are made. The TAR [Tibet Autonomous Region] government issued an order to all government departments that Tibetan government workers in different parts of China should report back to Lhasa within three days—they are needed to secure TAR railway lines. Failure to report in will result in ‘consequences.’...” —Witness from Lhasa

“Tibetan students in the Tibetan language department of North West National University of Lanzhou, in Gansu, staged a peaceful demonstration on the school grounds. More than 1,000 Tibetan students took part, and Tibetan students from other departments tried to join in but were blocked. They declared that their protest was peaceful, and they urged the Chinese authorities to stop their crackdown on Tibetans in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas. They also expressed solidarity with those Tibetans who protested in Lhasa, Labrang, and others outside Tibet. They had a banner that read, ‘We stand together with Tibetans, for glorious democracy and life.”—Witness from the Amdo region

Following are excerpted interviews from Tibetan sources who spoke with RFA on Saturday, March 15, 2008:

“I am in the Lhasa area. There was shooting today. Many Tibetans who were dead and barely alive were collected at the TAR [Tibet Autonomous Region] Security Office area, and I heard from a reliable source that there were 67 bodies. Some were alive and most were dead when they were brought in... This included male and female, and I don’t have the details… But it’s confirmed that there were in total about 67 bodies collected at this place. I cannot tell you the source of my information, but 67 bodies were seen by my source. It was officially announced by TAR officials that martial law was imposed. Right now I can hear shootings. We saw many tanks. Sometimes they fire in the air to threaten the Tibetans. At some places, like the Karma Kunsel area [near Lhasa], they are firing right now. Every Tibetan is stopped and their IDs are checked. Even Tibetan government workers are checked, but the Chinese are free to move around. Many Tibetans who were arrested were taken toward the Toelung area and several other jails in different parts of Lhasa. Even in Penpo, six monks were arrested last night and today there were demonstrations and Chinese shops were burnt. I think they might impose these restrictions for at least another seven to eight days. If they are not allowed to move around, the Tibetans won’t get food supplies, and the Tibetans are already suffering shortages of food. Right now the Chinese authorities are cracking down, but there are indications that this could spread further in rural areas. …There is no indication of any organization planning these demonstrations. It was a spontaneous response of Tibetans, and they jumped into the rally. They were shouting ‘Long live the Dalai Lama’ and ‘Independence for Tibet,’ and burning Chinese flags. Right now I was told that Tibetan monks in Samye monastery in Lokha are protesting too.”—Source in Lhasa

“Today there was a huge demonstration in Labrang. It was started at 11:45 a.m.. Yesterday there were roughly 3,000 to 4,000 but today is different. There are many thousands shouting ‘Long live the Dalai Lama,’ ‘Tibet is independent,’ and so on. They marched towards local government offices and damaged several windows and a big demonstration is going on.”—Source at Labrang monastery, Amdo

“On March 15, there were two demonstrations in the Lithang area. During the morning, the nomads from Othok Nyakchuka [home of detained lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche] rose up and demonstrated for quite awhile. One of the main leaders in the area was detained. Then on the same day the nomads from the same area as [jailed nomad] Ronggyal Adrak also demonstrated and shouted for quite some time and one monk was arrested. So the atmosphere in Lithang is very tense. The Tibetans were seen gathering in groups in Lithang town and planning something. At the same time, government officials are also planning to sabotage Tibetan plans. It is extremely difficult to get through. About 1,000 Tibetan independence flyers were distributed in Sershul county of Ganzi prefecture. Both Lithang and Sershul are in Ganzi prefecture.”—Source in Lithang area, Kham

“The Chinese authorities are locking up as many Tibetan protesters as possible in different jails. Many of them are detained in a jail behind the Potala Palace and four other prisons in the Lhasa area. The Tibetan protestors were locked in all these jail like animals. When we contacted them this morning, no killing was reported—this could be due to international pressure. It is difficult to give an exact figure for a death toll, but if we total up the deaths from different information, more than 100 Tibetans were killed. As of Saturday morning, the Chinese authorities are imposing martial law and arresting and detaining any Tibetan who comes out in the street and dumping them in jail. There is no sign of calm and stability in Lhasa at this point of time.”—Source in Lhasa

“When I called my contact this morning, several hundred Tibetan youths from Bora, Achok, Tsu, Gaja, Sang-kha, and other areas gathered at Labrang were demonstrating. There were several thousand police and PAP [People’s Armed Police] deployed in the area but so far there was no incident of firing at the crowd. However, several tear-gas shells were fired into the crowd. My contact didn’t see any ransacking in the area but due to smoke from tear-gas, the whole area is clouded and it’s difficult to get a full view of the whole area and any incidents. It is a fact that the number of protesters increased from yesterday. A rough estimate is over 3,000 [at Labrang monastery]. Tibetans are gathering from different directions and increasing the strength of the demonstrations. The demonstrators are shouting, ‘Long live the Dalai Lama,’ ‘Release the Panchen Lama,’ and ‘Start the Sino-Tibetan peace dialogue.’ Some were shouting, ‘Independence for Tibet.’ Since there is no open leadership, different groups are raising different slogans and most of them are saying ‘Long live the Dalai Lama.’”—Source in Lhasa

“Today there are army [troops] everywhere. There is no way to go and come. We are confined to our own homes. On Chinese media and TV, they are talking of only 10 Tibetans killed—and those killed were those who committed crimes. According to them, all this is the work of ‘the Dalai Lama clique.’ Right now, Lhasa city seems to be quiet, without incident, as no-one is allowed to move about, but there have been some clashes between Chinese and Tibetans on the outskirts of Lhasa in rural areas.”—Source in Lhasa

Earlier, on Friday, March 14, a Tibetan witness who joined the Lhasa protests reported as follows:

“Today when the Tibetans were demonstrating, many Tibetans were killed. We Tibetans had no weapons to fight back. When the Tibetans were gathered in front of the Jokhang [temple], the Chinese fired at us. I have personally seen more 100 Tibetans killed when the Chinese fired at the Tibetan crowd. It was the Chinese army who fired and that happened in Lhasa and I personally witnessed the tragedy. Many of those killed were young Tibetans, both boys and girls. ...It started around 10 a.m. ... Young kids, youths, male, female, and old, Tibetans of all ages were taken away to jail. The Tibetans who participated in the protests were from the whole Lhasa area. When I looked back all the Chinese shops were destroyed. I think not one Chinese shop is intact in the Barkhor area. All kinds of things were piled up on the main road and burned. Many vehicles were burned and destroyed. When I look right now, I can still see smoke. The Tibetans collected all the dead bodies in front of the Jokhang [temple] and offered prayers, and scarves. Those family members whose relatives were among those killed took their bodies away. None of my family members are among the killed but I was almost killed too, and many bodies looked familiar. If anybody moves around in town they get arrested and killed. I think the number of Tibetans killed could not be less than 100, as I reported earlier. Those who are dead sacrificed their lives for 6 million Tibetans. My disappointment is that we were not armed and the Chinese fired on unarmed Tibetans. The Chinese threw some poisonous gas and that gas made the Tibetans dazed and blurred. Then they were arrested and taken away. I also saw tanks in the area too, though I did not see many, but they were sent to threaten us. Right now Lhasa is quiet but I still see black smoke in Lhasa town. It was the Chinese army who fired on us.”

Original reporting in Tibetan

RFA Tibetan message board


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