Violence breaks out at protests in Tibet
Chinese news agency confirms fires set by protesters. Other sources report injuries, shots fired.
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The outbreak of violence Friday is just the latest escalation in the protests launched earlier this week by Tibetan monks. The Washington Post writes that Radio Free Asia, a US-supported news agency, reported that two monks attempted suicide on Thursday, while monks at Sera monastery began a hunger strike. The Post reports that Chinese officials accused the Dalai Lama of launching the protests.Skip to next paragraph
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In Beijing, Qin Gang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, blamed the protests on the Dalai Lama, calling them "a deliberate political plot of the Dalai Lama group to cause social unrest, separate Tibet from China and wreck the stable, harmonious and normal life of the Tibetan people."
Sonam Dagpo, secretary for information and international relations of the Dalai Lama's administration in Dharmsala, India, denied any involvement. "His holiness did not ask anyone to protest," he said.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Buddhist monks launched the protests on Monday. Police arrested at least 50 monks on Monday, according to Radio Free Asia, and used tear gas to disperse the monks' peaceful protest on Tuesday. The Monitor writes that the monks' demonstrations have the locals worried for the safety of the monks.
Many Tibetans, perhaps the most devout Buddhists in Asia, said they feared monks would be beaten and jailed for years. They said police are stepping up intimidation and making it harder for Tibetans to get permission to become monks, study their own language, or gain passports to travel.
"Lhasa is not a free place like Beijing," said one local. "It is a police state. Spies are following you everywhere, on the street, on the phone, on the Internet. They can take you away and nobody knows when you'll come back. Sometimes people come back after 10 years. They can't even talk or think anymore." ...
With global attention focused on China ahead of the Beijing Olympics, many Tibetans say this year might be their best chance to protest human rights abuses in Tibet. "We are afraid of losing our culture," says a local. "Even some of the police who are arresting monks are Tibetan people."
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that some 130 Tibetans living in exile in India have begun serving a two-week detention for a related protest in northern India Thursday. The exiles had planned to march to the Indian-Tibetan border to protest China's hosting of the Olympics, but were arrested by Indian officials who feared that the march would embarrass China.
The exiles are being kept in detention in a state-run hotel while authorities investigate the charges of threatening the "peace and tranquility" of the region, said Tenzin Palkyi, a march coordinator.
On Thursday, the Tibetans refused to sign statements pledging to stop their march, which would have allowed their immediate release, said Veena Rani, an official in the magistrate's office....
A decision on whether to free them or extend their custody will be made by the magistrate after two weeks, she said.