Thursday, March 20, 2008
BOMBING IN LHASA; PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY IN, JOURNALISTS OUT
home-made bomb was thrown at Chinese paramilitary forces in Lhasa on Wednesday, the Times reports.
Police fired teargas to disperse onlookers and schools were ordered to close early. It was unclear how many people were hurt. Residents said four police were killed or wounded but officials would not comment.If the Chinese would like to see what it's like to have a committed, violent separatist movement on their hands, they should just keep up their hardline approach and refusal to consider the mutually beneficial overtures from the currently moderate Tibetan leaders.
Tibet could easily become ungovernable for them if this type of tactic catches on. The moderates will become irrelevant, Dalai Lama will wash his hands of decades of effort to find Chinese leaders of integrity to speak with, and China will face an embarrassing mess for many years to come. Or, they could reconsider things (and hopefully Gordon Brown was quoting the Chinese PM accurately yesterday, on his willingness to meet and talk with DL) and try a different path.
Fresh protests broke out Tuesday in another region of Kanlho "TAP" (Ch: Gansu), where monks of a local monastery marched, and were joined by hundreds of other Tibetans to rally at the local government office in Tsoe City. Slogans for independent Tibet and long life for Dalai Lama were raised, and the Chinese flag was un-raised with prayer flags hoist in its place.
In another part of Kanlho "TAP", hundreds of Tibetans were making similar protests last night, again with no violent actions apart from the replacement of the colonial flag.
The Tibetan protesters defied the order to remove the flag for a while but eventually the Chinese security forces overpowered the protestors. More than five truckloads of Chinese security forces were brought into the scene to quell the demonstrators.Despite the Chinese government's insistence that "massive restraint" has been used and that "no bullet has been fired," the dead bodies outside monasteries and the ample and bloody photographic evidence belie those statements. Mao taught them that "power comes from the barrel of a gun," and the Party still believes it.
One of the only three remaining foreign journalists in Lhasa, the correspondent of German newspapers 'Die Zeit' and 'taz', Georg Blume, related that he was told by a protester 'how a woman who was trying to cross the street was shot dead.'Unfortunately, those two journalists have already been expelled.
British journalist James Miles, correspondent for 'The Economist' magazine, reported that security forces had 'exchanged their batons for guns latest by Sunday.'
He said that some Tibetan bystanders who observed the goings-on in the streets from roof tops had been fired upon.
'A high-ranking functionary threatened us with the revocation of our Chinese visas,' German Georg Blume said in a telephone interview from Lhasa before he and fellow German Kristin Kupfer were escorted to a train out of Tibet...I'd been watching and linking to Miles' dispatches at the Times, but there'll be no more.
Earlier, James Miles, the correspondent for the British Economist magazine was ordered out of Tibet and several Hong Kong journalist were also expelled Monday.
Attempts by the German embassy and EU ambassador in Beijing to persuade Beijing to allow the journalists to remain were unsuccessful.
Substantial amounts of Chinese military equipment and personnel have been observed in convoys heading into Tibetan areas from other parts of China. The People's Liberation Army is apparently now fully engaged for what the Chinese Communist Party boss of Tibet calls a "life or death battle." ICT has a photo showing PLA vehicles with their identifying markings covered up, while soldiers had their PLA symbols erased from their helmets. BBC has a photo gallery showing major Chinese troop movements into Tibetan areas.
A reliable source told ICT that Beijing University "minority students" have been obliged to fill out "pledges" against agitation.
"They were targeting Tibetan students…..who had to fill in the following details: 1. The place of the Dalai Lama in your heart; 2. the detailed address or work unit of one's parents; 3. the student's Identification card No; 4. the student need to pledge not to participate in any demonstration, sit-in or political activities."There are also more accounts from tourist witnesses:
A female tourist from eastern Europe contacted ICT today to report that she had been to Labrang monastery, the scene of large-scale protests by monks and laypeople on March 16, and seen police "beating monks and old women right in front of me -- I still cry just thinking about it".She had her camera taken away and all photos deleted, and was subject to several long detentions as she was being expelled from this area (far from Lhasa). An Australian resident of India was in Lhasa with a travelling companion. They said they too were shot at:
"A young Tibetan was being carried, he was dead, pale faced, he had three bullet wounds, exit wounds in his back and his t shirt was pulled up. They took him straight to a very small gompa [temple] right behind where we were staying and then we never saw him again...The BBC's Michael Bristow is in Xining, a Chinese city and capital of Qinghai province. He tried to drive to Dalai Lama's hometown, just a few hours away. It was securely blocked. And in a separate report, BBC says the government is moving large numbers of monks out of Lhasa on military flights.
"It was live ammunition. It was not tear gas, it was gunfire. There was no question about it, nor any question whether they were firing it over our heads or not. I remember this young Tibetan guy about my height who was running like hell for his life and so was I. I thought "Oh God, I am going to cop one in the back". I got to a slightly safer area way up the street panting."
A Chinese source with links to the security forces told the BBC that 600 monks had been flown overnight on military planes from Lhasa to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. The report could not be independently verified.Those readers who are confused about what China means by "Tibet" and what Tibetans mean by it, should take a look at this BBC exploration of the issue. There is a good map, which shows historical Tibet, and the Chinese provinces involved, with locations of major events over the past week marked. There is a history of violent protest in this region that stretches way back, even to the period before Dalai Lama's exile in 1959.
The new French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had in recent days sounded open to the idea of some form of targeted boycott (of Olympic opening ceremonies) to send a clear message to China. Compared to the condemnation of Burma, the Western response on Tibet has been fairly pathetic so far. Kouchner's expression of interest for this type of action was an encouraging signal of seriousness, the first of its kind after more than a week of China's clampdown. Now, he seems to be backtracking.
"When you conduct foreign relations with countries as important as China, obviously when you take economic decisions, sometimes it's at the expense of human rights," he told France's BFM television.Yeah right, we knew that. It's part of the problem, and why China knows it can get away with a lot more than the Burmese monk killers can. At least Germany is doing a little something, of some symbolic value. The German government is freezing aid talks with Beijing until the violence stops, says the Development Aid Minister.
'Force can never be the solution,' she said.Dalai Lama heard the words of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday, when he told his parliament that the Chinese premier is willing to talk to the Tibetan leader. He said today that he was ready. He has always been ready.
'The two sides can only arrive at a solution through dialogue. Under such conditions, it is hardly conceivable to be conducting inter-government negotiations.'
"I (am) always ready to meet our Chinese leaders, particularly Hu Jintao," the Dalai Lama told reporters, referring to the president of China.Notice that: he says "our Chinese leaders." He's trying his best to show them respect and assuage their suspicions.
He added he was ready to travel to Beijing.
But China lashed out at Brown for his decision to meet the Tibetan leader himself in May. They also repudiated Brown's account of the apparent softening of their stance.
'Some reports are not very accurate,' foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang when asked about reports that Premier Wen Jiabao had told Brown that China was ready to hold talks with the Dalai Lama if he renounced violence and independence.So it was just Brown's common-sense interpretation of their words. "The door is wide open," Wen Jiabao told a press conference this week, as long as the Tibetan leader "gives up independence and renounces violence." As Brown said to parliament, these are two things which Dalai Lama has already affirmed (for a long time at that).
But one can't use common sense when dealing with these people. China simply says "He's lying, he wants independence," and they will keep going on the same track. Demonize him, denounce him, and wage their "people's war" against the "Dalai group." As the world can clearly see, Tibetans love him and want him home after half a century away from them. They are the "Dalai group."