Updated – Protesters Dead in Tibet, Dalai Lama Calls for International Investigation

The city is in complete shutdown. There is no atmosphere whatsoever on the streets because there is a curfew and the streets are totally deserted.

This evening we have heard a few sporadic blasts once every few hours.

Right now, I’m looking at buildings that are burnt out. The city is absolutely burnt to cinders. It’s trashed.

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Our current hostel is in a safe area, in a kind of ‘green zone’ as people are calling it. The worst of the violence was in the centre and east of the city.

Some tourists who were in the east were forcibly removed from their hotels and hostels. Police turned up today and tried to forcibly remove all of us to a hotel further out west.

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The electricity in our hostel is out even though all the buildings nearby have electricity. You sense that it might be because they know tourists with cameras and email accounts are here and could contact the outside world.

From an eyewitness account in Lhasa: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asi…  

After confirming reports of 80 people being killed in riots in Lhasa ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03… ), His Holiness the Dalai Lama has labeled China’s current actions cultural genocide, and is calling for an international investigation. In this exclusive interview with the BBC the Dalai Lama criticizes China’s traditional use of violence to handle the conflict in Tibet, noting that this is now the second generation protesting Chinese rule:

The Dalai Lama is not calling for an end to the protests.

Meanwhile, the BBC is reporting that protests have now spread to Sichuan province:

The clashes in Aba, known as Ngawa in Tibetan, happened around 1200 local time on Sunday, according to Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet.

“The lay people and monks seem to have joined together in a protest… which was focussed around the police presence in the town,” she told the BBC.

“According to reliable reports the police opened fire,” said Ms Saunders, who is in London but said she had indirect phone and web access to eyewitness accounts. “We know there have been deaths.”

Accounts of how many people died differ, but she said the most reliable eyewitness source put the toll at seven.

link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asi…

The New York Times highlights the differences between the demands of the protestors – complete independence – and the Dalai Lama’s “middle way”:

“We the young people feel independence is our birthright,” said Dolma Choephel, 34, a social worker active with the Tibetan Youth Congress and who gathered Sunday morning at a demonstration outside the gates of the main town temple. “We understand the limitations of the Dalai Lama’s approach. What we got after six rounds of talks – this violence?” She was referring to the six negotiating sessions between the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities since 2002.

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The Dalai Lama, for his part, seemed unfazed about the dissent among Tibetans over full independence versus greater autonomy. Even his elder brother, he recalled, had admonished him many years ago for not advocating independence from China. ” ‘My dear younger brother, the Dalai Lama,’ ” his brother told him. ” ‘You sold out the Tibetan legitimate right. Like that.’ ”

The Dalai Lama described dissent as “a healthy sign of our commitment to democracy, open society.”

Chuckling, he added that the idea might come as “a surprise to our Chinese brothers and sisters.”

link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03…

Audio of the entire press conference is available at the Dalai Lama’s official website: http://www.dalailama.com/page….

News agencies are reporting that the Chinese authorities in Tibet have called for the protestors to turn themselves in on Monday.

Keep both the Tibetan and Chinese people in your thoughts, prayers and meditations.

Update (h/t to davidseth): please visit the International Campaign for Tibet for ways to get involved: http://support.savetibet.org/s…

18 comments

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    • nulwee on March 17, 2008 at 1:35 am

    The Tibetan people are willing to suffer being crushed into the pavement over this because whether or not their is a violent confrontation, China is ensuring the death of Tibet with its present colonial/imperial policy.  Lhasa is Baghdad, Kabul, Western Sahara and Sarajevo.  The Tibetan people are right to defend themselves.  They have a right to defend themselves.

  1. I pray for their safety.

  2. it’s one thing for us to protest the war, in the United States, with freedom of speech protecting us, and a government that has rules to obey. but for these people to take to the streets there, without any guarantee of safety, without any laws backing them up, in the face of a government that hates them and their culture, is just remarkable. my heart goes out to the monks, students, and whoever else is in the ranks. they have true guts and passion. I hope they WIN.

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