Authorities in China’s northwestern Gansu province are questioning Tibetan students who commemorated the anniversary of a riot in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, threatening them with “serious consequences” if they do not identify the organizers of the event, according to a source in the region.
Students of the Northwest University of Nationalities in the provincial capital Lanzhou marked the fifth anniversary of the March 14, 2008 riot by “mourning” the crackdown by Chinese authorities on Tibetans, the source said, citing contacts in Lanzhou and speaking to RFA’s Tibetan Service on condition of anonymity.
“They put up prayer lamps in their classes and wrote 3/14 on their classroom board and mourned those Tibetans who died in the violent Chinese crackdown,” he said.
The Lhasa riot followed the suppression by Chinese police of four days of peaceful protests by Tibetans and led to the widespread destruction of Han Chinese shops in the city and deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents. More than a dozen civilians were killed in the clashes, according to various reports.
The riot sparked months of mostly peaceful protests against Chinese rule that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces.
Hundreds of Tibetans were detained, beaten, or shot as Chinese security forces quelled the protests.
Day of mourning
“Chinese authorities have labeled March 14 as a day of ‘beating, ransacking, and looting,’ but Tibetans observe it as a day of mourning for the Chinese crackdown on Tibetans,” RFA’s source said.
“Students discussed the 3/14 incident in class on March 14 and left the school without incident,” the source said.
“But when school authorities and concerned officials learned about the commemoration, each student was called in and questioned about the incident.”
“They were specifically asked for the names of the persons who led in the planning of the observance,” he said.
School authorities threatened the students with detention and other “serious consequences that could hurt their future” if they refused to cooperate, the source said.
The students were also cautioned to seek official permission before organizing school events, he said.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karme Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.