'Life and death struggle' in Tibet

In solidarity, Tibetans march with prayers in Tsolho

Amid crackdown by Chinese authorities on Tibetan demonstrators, defiant Tibetans in Tsolho "TAP" Qinghai Province take a peaceful solidarity march on March 25, 2008. The marchers later held a prayer session, before the township government headquarters, for those who lost their lives in the recent series of protests across Tibet.
Amid crackdown by Chinese authorities on Tibetan demonstrators, defiant Tibetans in Tsolho "TAP" Qinghai Province take a peaceful solidarity march on March 25, 2008. The marchers later held a prayer session, before the township government headquarters, for those who lost their lives in the recent series of protests across Tibet.
Upon witnessing massive protests across the Tibetan plateau since 10 March, Tibetan people from all walks of life in Holkha Township, Tsigorthang County (Xinghai Xian) Tsolho "TAP" Qinghai Province staged a peaceful solidarity march and later held a prayer session for those who lost their lives in the recent series of protests in Tibet on 25 March. Following the peace march and prayer session at the township government headquarters, three Tibetans were arbitrarily arrested in an early morning raid in their home by the People's Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

With severe restrictions placed on communication lines by the Chinese authorities, further information on the peaceful political dissents are hard to come by, however, a few brave and courageous Tibetans despite being aware of the grave risk have sent first hand information substantiated with pictures. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) received exclusive fresh pictures depicting peaceful Tibetan solidarity march in Holkha Township on 25 March.

According to confirmed information received by the TCHRD, on 25 March, hundreds of Tibetans from all walks of life including monks in Holkha Township staged a peaceful solidarity march at the main market square of the Township. The marchers were calling for an immediate end to the brutal crackdown on the Tibetan protesters in Lhasa and series of Tibetan protests in other parts of Tibet. In a unique display of their support for those who have lost their lives and were injured in recent protests, many marchers were seen carrying traditional prayer wheels in their hands while reciting prayers (Mani Mantra) and others holding a huge banner bearing text written in Tibetan and Chinese, that reads: Peace, Democracy. We mourn and pray (mani mantra) for our people who lost their lives. The marchers finally ended their procession at the Holkha Township government headquarters where they held a sit-in protest and recited prayer throughout the day. Although PAP and PSB officials were seen in their combat gear during the entire peaceful solidarity march, there was no report of arrest or detention of Tibetan marchers that day.

The banner carried by Tsolho Tibetan marchers reads: “Peace - Democracy. We mourn and pray (mani mantra) for our people who lost their lives”.
The banner carried by Tsolho Tibetan marchers reads: “Peace - Democracy. We mourn and pray (mani mantra) for our people who lost their lives”.
However, in a sudden change of tactic, the authorities launched an early morning raid in the homes of Tibetans suspected to be the leaders in the previous day protest. The PAP and PSB officials arbitrarily arrested at least three Tibetans including a female from their homes and took them to an unknown location. Arrestees are: Rinbum Gyal and Tsewang, both in their late 20's and a female whose identity could not be ascertained at the moment. A Public Notice imprint with the official stamp of PSB was issued demanding protesters of the 'illegal' 25th March protest to surrender voluntarily for leniency. At the same time, it warned protesters of severe punishment who fail to surrender to the authorities within three days' deadline. There is no current information on the number of people arrested and on the exact location of where the three are detained.

According to sources, following their arrest in the early morning raid on 26 March, more than 600 Tibetans from nine villages under Holkha Township staged a peaceful sit-in protest in front of Township government headquarters demanding immediate release of those arrested. The protesters sat for the entire day demanding the authorities to heed their demand. After a daylong protest, the protesting crowd finally dispersed after township authorities agreed to secure their releases. The sources confirmed that protesters pledge to undertake a similar protest at the government headquarters if authorities fail to deliver their promise.

Although there was no report of protest by Tibetans on 27 March in Holkha Township, yet at around 3 PM (Beijing Standard Time) hundreds of additional PAP and PSB officials in military trucks were flooded into the market place to check a further outburst of protest by Tibetans. Military troops in several rows were seen patrolling the streets of Holkha Township. Later that day, four people, Malle and Tsekyab Gyal both male in their late 20's from Holkha Township and two Tibetan businesswomen from other parts of Tibet were arrested by the security forces for unknown reason. There is no information on the location of their detention. The present atmosphere in Holkha Township is known to be very tense with heavy presence of military forces.

TCHRD expresses its serious concern over the prevailing circumstances in many parts of Tibetan inhabited areas and urges the Government of the People's Republic of China to allow protesters to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly, to refrain from excessive use of force, and to ensure those arrested are not ill-treated and are accorded due process in line with international standards.

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'Life and death struggle' in Tibet

Live coverage of the latest news on the unrest in Tibet

China described the protests in Tibet as a "life and death struggle with the Dalai clique" as pro-Tibet protests spread across the world and calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics increase.

Scroll down and refresh for updates, reaction and your chance to comment

Dramatic images of Tibetan protesters on horseback and demonstrators claims of beatings have been broadcast by Canadian TV.

The Dalai Lama met Tibetan exile groups frustrated at his soft line on independence, according to Reuters.

Worldwide protests over China's crackdown are spreading, according to AFP on Tibet Daily.

Three Tibetans have been shot dead in Kardze province, according to the exile group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

The English-language Chinese mouthpiece the China Daily prints details of a report on last week's unrest in the Tibetan capital Lhasa. It portrays the unrest as a criminal riot.

It says: "At least 373 business people and 32 enterprises had reported damages from the riot, with losses exceeding 99.1 million yuan (about $14 million) as of Tuesday night, according to the regional department of commerce."

The report quotes Ragdi, a Tibetan official, who said: "The rioters' cruelty has aroused huge indignation among the people. We have sufficient evidence proving that the Lhasa riot was instigated, planned and organised by the Dalai clique."

Josh Chin, an American journalist in Beijing, writes a thoughtful post about the difficulty of news gathering from Tibet.

He writes: "Virtually everything we hear about Tibet comes filtered through one of two very well-oiled propaganda machines: one in Beijing, the other in Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama maintains Tibet's government-in-exile). Even in the best of times, independent reporting on the place is both rare and restricted. Now? It's anybody's guess what's really going on."

He links to the Economist, which has the only accredited foreign journalist in Llasa. But ominously James Miles does not seem to have filed today. Yesterday he wrote of how his attempts to cover the situation were being blocked by the authorities. To follow what happened yesterday and and the day before go here and here.

If you known anyone in Tibet or have spotted some interesting news sources, please let us know.

More photos of the unrest and its aftermath in Lhasa are published on the Opposite End of China blog. It also repeats grim Chinese allegations against the Tibetan protesters, including that they "sliced off people's ears, gored children, clubbed young Tibetans into a coma and tried to block nurses from saving an injured five-year-old."

The post gives a health warning about such claims but asks: "Aren't Tibetans supposed to take the high road?"

The Pope has stepped in. He called for dialogue and tolerance between Chinese and Tibetans, according to AP. "With violence you don't solve problems but make them worse", he told his weekly audience at the Vatican.

The exiled group TCHRD has more reports of protests from yesterday in Ngaba, Sichuan Province.

It said: "The protestors headed towards the Township government headquarter in the main market area where protesters brought down the Chinese national flag and hoisted the banned Tibetan national flag in its place."

The Australian news channel ABC has broadcast images of armoured vehicles in Lhasa captured by an Australian tourist. The report was posted to YouTube within the last hour.

Should Gordon Brown meet the Dalai Lama when he is due to visit London in May? Simon Tisdall in today's Guardian says the visit presents an awkward dilemma for the PM.

The word from Whitehall is that Gordon Brown is due to announce this afternoon that he will meet the Dalai Lama in May. Such a meeting will "enrage Beijing", Tisdall said this morning.

The Dalai Lama has been branded a "monster" by the Communist party's secretary in Tibet, Zhang Qingli, according to the Times.

The BBC World Service reports large troop reinforcements have been seen heading for Tibet. More than 400 troop vehicles were witnessed by the BBC's correspondent on the border.

Gordon Brown has confirmed he will meet the Dalai Lama in May. Speaking at prime minister's questions in the Commons he also revealed he spoke to China's premiere, Wen Jiabao, to call for an end to the violence.

"The premier told me that, subject to two things the Dalai Lama has already said - that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he refrains from violence - he would be prepared to enter a dialogue with the Dalai Lama," Brown said.

Chinese bloggers are resorting to code and allegory to get round the censors, to discuss the situation in Tibet, judging by a Google translation of a post from the Chinese-language blog Zuola.

The unrest is referred to as an "infection of mad cow disease", the Tibetans as "Yaks" and the Chinese as a "tractor battalion".

This appears to tally with a report in Wired which claims that "enterprising bloggers" are evading Chinese filtering systems by "deliberately misspelling words that China's censors have deemed troublesome".

TCHRD has news of a new Tibetan protest, this time in Ponkor Village in Luchu County.

"More than two hundreds Tibetan nomads and farmers are staging a peaceful demonstration at the Township public primary school compound. The protesters are demanding that unless Chinese security forces abandon the planned arrest of the Tibetans they will continue to stage the protest. The present situation at Ma Ngoe Township is known to be very tense and volatile."

Protests have spread across the entire Tibetan plateau, according to the International Campaign for Tibet.

Tibetan protesters killed up to four policeman in Lhasa with a homemade bomb, according to the Chinese authorities cited by the Times. Pictures of 12 people wanted for the attack have been broadcast on TV.

Chengdu police "refute rumours" of an explosion on a bus, in news conference footage posted, with English subtitles, to YouTube.


Litang, a Sichuan city whose population is 90% Tibetan, is under siege, according to Time magazine's Simon Elegant. "One local television channel ceased its regular programming, replacing it with a looped reading of a government warning, in Tibetan and Chinese, against listening to or cooperating with the 'splittists of the Dalai Lama clique'," he writes.

What's happened to James Miles? asks Griopal, a reader on the Economist's comment section.

The post says: "If he is still in Lhasa, it would be good to get some insight into the recent events. If he was sent out of Tibet, that too would be an important news in itself - an indicator of things to come. There is very little news coming out from there that we can really trust."

There is nothing but praise for the Chinese and hostility to the Tibetans on Chinese blog posts, according to Bob Chen on Global Voices.

He writes: "Tibet is in commotion, people's life in danger. Looting and shooting and destroying have been on street. The situation there climbed to the front pages of many foreign papers. But when I walked in, through the massive gate of Great Firewall of China to the domestic blogshpere, I found the turmoil and gory images largely gone, a wind of peace, richness and harmony greeting me."

Wikileaks has released 35 censored videos relating to protests in Tibet. "The first ingredient of civil society is the people's right to know," it says. There's more here.

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner is backtracking from comments yesterday suggesting he was open to a boycott of the Beijing Olympics by VIPs at the opening ceremony, according to the Herald Tribune.

For more news and analysis on the situation in Tibet, including video and audio reports and an interactive guide, click here.


Comments are now closed on this entry.


Comment No. 1002895
March 19 12:26

I want the Guardian's editorial team to explain why what is happening in Tibet is characterised in the paper as a "riot" rather than a "demonstration" or an "uprising". Is Tibet not illegally occupied, under international law? Does this not give the Tibetan people the right to resist? Calling this resistance "a riot" is playing into the hands of the Chinese government. "Rioters" are giving themselves up to the Chinese government - what a way to describe a ruthless military crackdown on heroic opponents of this disgraceful regime.

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Comment No. 1003138
March 19 13:51

Re: Previous comment. All reference to riot or rioters, of which there were 4 in total, refer to comments or decriptions of events in Tibet made by the Chinese Government. Most were used within quotation marks which in standard English usually means someone else said it.

This is another example of people grabbing onto facts and words and coming up with an inaccurate view of the what is happening in the world. Who needs political bias in newspapers when readers can't even read properly.

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Comment No. 1003209
March 19 14:17

'The Dalai Lama met Tibetan exile groups frustrated at his soft line on independence'

It's not that the Dali Lama is taking a soft line on independence, he just doesn't want to encourage protest that he himself would repress if his own autocratic regime was installed.

'The Pope has stepped in. He called for dialogue and tolerance between Chinese and Tibetans, according to AP. "With violence you don't solve problems but make them worse"'

Another religious autocrat.

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Comment No. 1003218
March 19 14:21

I'm pleased to hear that Gordon Brown has urged China to end the violence in Tibet. However there needs to be greater pressure from the IOC (International Olympic Committee). In the Olympic Charter there are six 'Fundamental Principles of Olympism' one of these being:

"Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement"

If that is not a justifiable reason to increase pressure on the Chinese government, then in my opinion it completely nullifies the whole Olympic message.

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Comment No. 1003550
March 19 16:25

Why is Tibetans more important than Iraquis and Afgans who are being mercilessly killed? Only, in that after 5 years the subject is not topical, except in memory!

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Comment No. 1003668
March 19 17:20

Ipsy, who said Tibetans WERE more important than Afghans and Iraqis?! I think you should refer to the Afghan-and-Iraqi's-being-mercilessly-killed blogs, rather than the Tibetan one.

[Edited by moderator]

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Comment No. 1003765
March 19 18:31

Ah Ipsy, you must be young! The problem is, the Chinese invaded Tibet 49 years ago & since then have tried damnably hard to completely destroy anything that smacks of being Tibetan. The Dalai Lama had to escape in 1959 or else he'd be dead, too. Dead, or tortured like hundreds of ordinary people, monks and nuns who just want to live in Tibet as they have done for centuries. Trouble is they also want to remove their invader. Not a bad idea, really, is it? It just causes so much trouble, though, and if we've ignored it for this long, why not do so for the next 49 years? The Chinese rulers are really just lovely, kind people aren't they? And they love letting people have their human rights. If we all keep very quiet, perhaps it'll all go away and we can watch the Olympics in peace!

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Comment No. 1004282
March 20 5:12

'who just want to live in Tibet as they have done for centuries'

Damn and there was me thinking they were fighting for democracy, but you say they want to swap an authoritarian regime for an autocratic one. Can't say I'd support the idea of supporting people who would choose to live under the Tibetan equivalent of the Ayatollah.

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Comment No. 1005144
March 20 12:57

The Olympics were created thousands of years ago to stop the various wars taking place in ancient Europe.
Now the Olympics are clearly a money making machine which every country aspires to host.

I cannot believe that people are being killed and abused in China and we are not cosidering boycotting the Games.

I feel nausea and disgust. I remind everyone of the nature of the people being abused, people from Tibet are among the most peaceful people in the world.

I would urge our Government together wih all the sports bodies in the UK and in Europe to strongly consider the possibility of a boycott. The Olympics will have no sense if even one person dies. The achievements of the athletes will not take centre stage and will not be remembered down in history. Probably these Olympics will be known by our children as the Olympics of the Chinese genocide.
Do we really want this? Can we afford this as humanity? And is this what the Olympics has become?
Something must be done, and Sport has to take its responsibility.

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Comment No. 1006441
March 20 22:02

Reply to Ipsy on below quote

"Why is Tibetans more important than Iraqis and Afghans who are being mercilessly killed? Only, in that after 5 years the subject is not topical, except in memory!"

Tibet is not more important than Iraqis or Afghans, it`s all matter of covering what`s fresh. Didn't Iraq and Afghan get their share of news when it first started and as case of Iraqis..it`s still fresh.

And by the way, the struggle of Tibet has been there for the last 58 years, you didn't complain when news didn't cover it? The uprising in Tibet is happening now..thus the report. And Olympics is happening in China, this years.. thus the connection. Understood?

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Comment No. 1006487
March 20 22:45

We all talk about "How can those "monstrous Tibetan rioter" kill those 2 "Innocent Han Chinese"

I wonder when will we come to the point when we say " How can those communist kill those "1.2 Million Tibetans", destroyed 6000 monasteries? Forced monks and nuns to renounce their religion and re-educate them into believing that Mao is their new god?

Buddhism doesn't force anyone, if Tibetan feels so bad about theocracy as many in here claims to be, it`s been 58 yrs now.. by now they would have overthrown it if Tibet was free. The so called theocracy might have been treated royally living many poor but they didn't genocide 1.2 million Tibetans with arms, weapons, bombs and prisons.

Before 1949, many countries around the world is in Mess, WWII has just finished and many were in debts, but in the last 6 odd decades, everyone has been able to build themselves up...Tibet would too if it was left alone. 1949 is the year when colonizers gave left to their own country and many country regained independence.. the paradox of the time is that IT WAS THE SAME YEAR TIBET BECAME A COLONIZED COUNTRY.

free tibet

Photos NOT seen anywhere else. (Viewers discretion required.)

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Comment No. 1007903
March 22 8:33


The Olympic Game and the recent economic uprising of China seems to trigger an mass hysteria in western media worrying about reporting any true and unbiased story of Chinese right-doing.

The following Y-tube talks itself:-


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Comment No. 1008113
March 22 15:41

On Sat, 22 Mar 2008 07:02:35 -0700 (PDT), wrote:

>On Mar 22, 6:34 am, s...@tpsur.net (¤j§jªkÁ³) wrote:
>> http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=uSQnK5FcKas
>> http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=GpxgVtDiuZo&feature=related
>Yes. A good demonstration on how western outlets distort the news. In principle, free press sounds great. But in reality, free preses frequenlty means "free to fake" press.
(My comments in the China newsgroup.)

I looked at a few other YouTube videos and this one by an Austrailian tourist shows only Tibetans rioting, committing arson and likely murder.

In the days to come more such videos will be posted. They are too graphic and upset me deeply. It is not a feeling I want to harbor. I can imagine how these videos will inflame mainland Chinese. The Chinese government is RIGHT TO BLOCK ACCESS to YouTube and other online video sites. To allow these videos to be shown in almost real time may well cause hot headed Han Chinese to strike back at any Tibetan community in their neighborhoods all over China. The resulting backlash and mayhem where Tibetans will be injured or killed by Chinese will of course please the Dalai Lama and many foreigners who wish China ill. By blocking access that will give time for passions to cool. In time people will see the videos anyway and come to the right conclusions. But not for now. It is far too dangerous

I am sure the Tibetan minorities in Chinese communities all over China are already very fearful for their own safety. The local Chinese authorities will do well to provide a very visible police presence to ensure their safety and keep off troublemakers. Given the inflammatory unthinking enthusiasm of Western media for reporting anything to embarrass China this police protection may well be reported as police oppression should any such writer come across it. Thus the Chinese authorities are again right to block access to Western Journalists rushing in for the hot story regardless of the consequences that their words and pictures will likely fuel the disorder they seek to report.

I shall not watch any more of the riot videos as they add nothing to the conclusion that clearly puts all the mayhem as originating from Tibetans. The Chinese authorities have show remarkable restraint in not shooting the rioters. Order was quickly restored and Tibet has already moved off the front pages of the mainstream media. In the coming weeks more objective reports and opinion pieces will appear. That should make foolish of all those people who rashly rushed to defend the Tibetans and to accuse China or genocide or worse. I have no fear that the Chinese Government will have anything to apologise for in its responses to the rioting. In fact this may well be the gold standard for the rest of the world on how to deal with civil unrest. There is certainly nothing the West can boast about on how they deal with racial riots in their own countries.

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Comment No. 1008298
March 22 21:37

Riot Reports Show Media Bias in West - Chinese netizens, including students studying overseas, have been angered by biased and sometimes dishonest reports about the recent riots in Tibet by some Western media.....

Full China coverage - Lhasa Riot http://english.cri.cn/3126/2008/03/20/Zt1321@336118.htm

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