Reports of spreading protests in Tibet

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Free Tibet Campaign has been informed by a witness that protests started in Machu County yesterday. The witness was speaking by phone to Free Tibet Campaign's contact in Northern India. The demonstration started at 4pm yesterday and according to the eyewitness was led by students from the county, as well as monks. The protesters destroyed the civil government headquarters and burned Chinese national flags, replacing them with Tibetan national flags.

The protest escalated today when 5000 protesters gathered in Machu County, according to the eyewitness. The protesters chanted "Long Live the Dalai Lama", "Release the Panchen Lama" and "Free Tibet".

The eyewitness told Latest news of protests spreading throughout historic Tibet

1) Machu town in Gansu Province

An eyewitness to events in Machu town in Machu county (Ganan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province) contacted Free Tibet Campaign's representative in Northern India. The eyewitness reported that 300 to 400 hundred Tibetans protested in Machu County. They shouted slogans "we want freedom” and “long live His Holiness The Dalai Lama". Tibetan protestors waved Tibetan flags and some carried a very large photo of the Dalai lama in the street around 6pm in local time. The protestors broke all the windows and doors of the Machu county government department building, attacked a police station first and set on fire Chinese restaurants and shops in Machu town city. The eyewitness did not report the presence of Chinese security officials in Machu town.

2. North West Minority University, in Lanzhou, Gansu Province

According to a student who was involved and contacted Free Tibet Campaign in Northern India, around 100 Tibetan students started a protest at roughly 6pm (Beijing Time). The students sat in the main playing area of the campus to protest the killing of Tibetans in Lhasa. Dorshi Lama, a senior professor in the university, tried to persuade the students to return to their dormitories, but they refused to move. The eyewitness told our contact in Northern India later this evening that the authorities were not allowing the students to leave the campus.

3. Kirti Monastery, *Ngaba* County (Ch: Aba) Sichuan Province

Free Tibet Campaign's contact in Northern India has received by phone several eyewitness accounts to events in Ngaba County today.(Ch: Aba)

One eyewitness reported seeing Chinese security forces shooting dead thirteen Tibetans. One of the Tibetans was named as Lobsang Tashi. The eyewitness reported that the protest was started by three monks from Kirti monastery and was joined by hundreds of monks and lay people. The protest took place 2km from Kirti monastery in Ngawa County. The protestors called for the release of the Panchen Lama. Protestors demanded the release of two monks from Kirti monastery who got arrested yesterday. According to the eyewitness police shot tear gas into the crowd and beat many of the protestors. The police then shot live round of ammunition into the crowd. According to the eyewitness this led to the confirmed deaths of thirteen Tibetans. Many more Tibetans were injured. The eyewitness then reported that the protestors reacted angrily to the use of firearms and the deaths. The protestors burned down several police vehicles and the Public Security Bureau HQ.

Other eyewitnesses to the protest that have spoken by phone to our contact in Northern India are reporting that up to 30 Tibetans were killed when the armed police shot into the crowd.

Our contact in Northern India spoke to a monk who had returned to Kirti monastery after the protests to which he had been an eyewitness. In a telephone conversation at 3pm Beijing time the monk told our contact that he had seen eight Tibetan bodies arrive at the monastery. Two were monks, one a lay female and five were lay people. The eyewitness told our contact that a further two bodies arrived at the monastery half an hour later. The bodies were thought to be those of students involved in the protest. our contact in Northern Indiathat he had been told that clashes between protesters and security forces had taken place but he had not witnessed them and that he had heard that 12 people had been killed in the clashes but that he had not witnessed the killings.

The eyewitness was speaking by phone, and while he was on phone he told our contact that he could hear gunfire. He was unable to confirm whether the gunfire was from Chinese security officials.

The eyewitness also told our contact that he had received a call from a Chinese friend in Lanzhou. The friend was a well-placed source who stated that he knew that 20,000 paramilitaries were being sent from Lanzhou to the following locations in Gansu Province:

Tsoe (Ch: Ganan) city

Labrang (Ch: Xiahe) County

Machu County

Luchu County

Bora town, Gannan city

Taktsang Lhamo, luchu county

Matt Whitticase
Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

Notes:

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456