New Protests Erupt in Lhasa

Witnesses in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, say fresh protests erupted there Saturday afternoon despite a massive Chinese police and paramilitary presence.

2008.03.29
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Chinese soldiers patrol the streets of the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 27, 2008. Photo: AFP
KATHMANDU- Witnesses in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, say fresh protests erupted there Saturday afternoon despite a massive Chinese police and paramilitary presence.

Witnesses told RFA's Tibetan service that several hundred Tibetans rallied around 2 p.m. on March 29, beginning in the area near Center Beijing Road. Shops near the central post office on Lhasa Youth Road were closed, as security forces surrounded the Tibetan residential areas in Barkhor, Kama Kunsang, Ramoche, and the Jokhang temple.

"People were running in every direction," one witness said. "It was a huge protest, and people were shouting."

Another source who declined to be identified reported seeing "fistfights" but she didn't give details. The protest continued for several hours but no further details were immediately available.

"The local government is now sending mass text messages using local cell phone companies to spread the word that the situation is now under control and people shouldn't be influenced by divisive-sounding news and gossip," another source said.

The March 29 protest coincided with a day-long visit to Lhasa by foreign diplomats, who came at the invitation of Chinese authorities. It also follows a closely scripted visit to Lhasa by foreign reporters.

No comment was available from Chinese authorities, and details of how Chinese police and paramilitary forces responded were unavailable.

Original reporting by RFA's Tibetan service. Translation Kalden Lodoe. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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