Tibet riot anniversary passes in tense quiet
Paramilitary and plainclothes police blanketed Lhasa with patrols and checkpoints today, imposing what witnesses called a tense calm on the anniversary of a violent anti-Chinese riot in the Tibetan capital.
Lhasa residents said police with rifles or batons marched around the Jokhang Temple and the adjacent Barkhor Square in the old city, where rioters ran rampant last year. A Hong Kong tourist said two military helicopters hovered over the city in the morning - a rare sight - and that officers demanded to see identification at checkpoints.
"I was constantly stopped for identity check in the past few days," said the tourist, who only wanted to be identified by his surname, Chu, because of the heavy security. "I was stopped twice last night on my way back to my hotel from dinner. They were just several hundred metres apart."
The riot erupted on March 14, 2008, after four days of largely peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks that called on China to allow the exiled Dalai Lama to return. Tibetans torched and ransacked Chinese businesses.
The violence touched off protests in Tibetan communities across western China that sputtered on for weeks — the largest uprising against Chinese rule in decades.
In response, China smothered the area with armed police, who have been kept in the region ever since. Their numbers were increased in recent weeks, putting the area under a form of martial law, setting up checkpoints and trying to enforce an information blackout. Foreign tourists and foreign media have been barred from the region, and in some places, Internet and mobile phone text-messaging services have been cut.
Residents in other Tibetan areas described security arrangements today similar to those in Lhasa. Police in the overwhelmingly Chinese provincial capital of Chengdu blocked traffic into the city's Tibetan neighborhood, and plainclothes police followed foreign reporters.
Due to the tight security and information blockade — then and now — much about the Lhasa riot and the subsequent uprising has remained unclear. Beijing says 22 people, mostly Chinese civilians, died in the riot, and though it has acknowledged deaths elsewhere, a full tally has never been provided.
The Dalai Lama's exiled government in India says 220 Tibetans died and nearly 7,000 were detained.
Several media outlets from the Chinese territory in Hong Kong managed to get reporters into Lhasa for the anniversary. Hong Kong RTHK radio posted photos on its Web site showing shuttered shops around the Jokhang temple while armed police with automatic rifles patrolled nearby.
The South China Morning Post carried reports from an unidentified staff reporter describing door-to-door inspections of hotels and neighborhoods by authorities to round up "suspicious people."
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...
£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...