Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tibet Update: China Kills

Here's a late report on Tibet from The Guardian:

Police have fired teargas to disperse Buddhist monks and others staging a second day of protests in sympathy with anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa that has left at least 30 dead. Unconfirmed reports say the figure is closer to 130.

Several hundred monks marched out of the historic Labrang monastery and into the town of Xiahe this morning, gathering other Tibetans with them as they went. Teargas was fired after the crowd, described as the largest demonstrations in Tibet for 20 years, attacked government buildings and smashed windows in the county police headquarters.
If I remember correctly, Labrang is the second largest monastery in Tibet; only the main monastery in Lhasa is larger. My Tibetan Civilization prof in college, Thigme Norbu, was the chief monk there (if it is, in fact, the second largest) before China invaded, deposing his brother, the Dalai Lama.

AP takes a more conservative stand in reporting deaths, but portends that things could get much worse in coming days:
China ordered tourists out of Tibet's capital Saturday while troops on foot and in armored vehicles patrolled the streets and enforced a strict curfew, a day after riots that a Tibetan exile group said left at least 30 protesters dead.

The protests against Chinese rule of Tibet that began Monday are the largest and most violent in the region in nearly two decades. They have spread to other areas of China as well as neighboring Nepal and India among other countries.

China's governor in Tibet vowed to punish the rioters, while law enforcement authorities urged protesters to turn themselves in by Tuesday or face unspecified punishment.
AFP quotes the Tibetan government in exile in India:
"We are confirming approximately 30 deaths, and we are even hearing numbers of over 100 dead, but this number we are unable to confirm," Tenzin Taklha, a senior official of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala in northern India, told AFP.

"Right now we are hearing that there are many Chinese troops in Lhasa. There are pockets of people out in the streets right now, but there is great fear among the population."
Is the fear justified? Most certainly. Will the Chinese unleash their troops just five months before the Olympics? Quite possibly; it is not a regime that traditionally has cared much about foreign reactions. Perhaps the Olympics will buy the Tibetans some safety ... but the Chinese are between a rock and a hard place here, because they know that if they yield to Tibet, all of western China may follow Tibet's lead, creating a Buddhist-Islamic uprising against the atheists in Beijing.

Now that would be interesting, politically and theologically.

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