Tuesday :: Mar 18, 2008

"They're shooting our people like dogs."

by Turkana

It sounds pretty clean and calm. As reported by Asia Times:

Hours after Monday's midnight deadline passed for anti-Chinese protesters in Tibet to turn themselves in or face severe punishment, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao clearly laid the blame for the unrest on the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader and temporal head of the Tibetan government in exile.

"There is ample fact - and we also have plenty of evidence - proving that this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique," Wen said in Beijing at the end of the annual National People's Congress session in a press briefing that was broadcast live nationally.

Despite Wen's unequivocal accusation against the Dalai Lama of orchestrating events in Tibet, he said China was prepared to talk to the spiritual leader.

And the Times of India has the Chinese-appointed Tibetan leader's reaction:

Tibet's governor said on Monday that 16 people were killed in violence that broke out in the regional capital, as Chinese troops fanned out to quell protests that have spread to three neighbouring provinces. Exiled Tibetans say as many as 80 people may have died.

Champa Phuntsok gave the official death toll at a news conference called to explain the response to the largest anti-government protests in almost two decades, which have thrown an international spotlight on China's human rights record as it prepares for the Beijing Olympics.

Sixteen dead. Protesters trying to take political advantage of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. The Chinese government ready to talk with the Dalai Lama. After blaming him for the problems. And, of course, it's not as if the Chinese government has been in the midst of a brutal wave of oppression, so it can present to the world a politically expedient false view of what life is really like under tyranny.

And while the Dalai Lama made clear that he would not tell his people to surrender, he also called for an international probe, to prove he was not behind these protests. Because what the Chinese government doesn't want the world to understand is that it doesn't take revolutionary agitators to inspire rebellion against oppression. As Spiegel Online explained:

The violence in Lhasa is not part of a separatist campaign. Rather, it is the result of failed political policies. To avoid an Olympic-sized debacle, it is time for Beijing to sit down together with the Dalai Lama. The radical Tibetan alternative is far more dangerous.

Tanks in the street of Lhasa, burning cars on the Roof of the World and thousands of soldiers brandishing assault rifles, imposing peace at the barrel of a gun -- it is as if China was an imploding banana republic. On top of that, there are unknown numbers of dead on both sides. This, surely, is not the new China -- a gleaming economic powerhouse -- that Beijing wanted to present to the world before its celebration of the century: the 2008 Olympic Games.

In fact, the situation is turning into a nightmare. The horror is worst for the locals, who in the next few days will be dragged out of their homes and subjected to terrible punishments and torture. The promise that Beijing will uphold human rights in the run-up to the Olympic Games has now gone out the window.

Even before the Olympic torch passes through the streets of Lhasa and is carried up Mount Everest later this spring, Chinese judges will likely have already handed down the first death sentences to demonstrators.

For the planners of the Olympic Games and for China's politicians, who would have liked to have basked in the glory of a clean and apolitical Games, their worst nightmares have come true.

The Tibetans have shown great courage, in their quest for freedom. But the Chinese government does not allow dissent. And the Chinese government understands that the less the world sees, the more they can play the game of being clean and calm. The Guardian made this ominous report, before the deadline:

China was today sealing off Tibet and other areas of unrest from outside scrutiny, expelling foreign media as the midnight (4pm GMT) ultimatum for protesters to hand themselves in passed.

Following days of violent demonstrations in both Tibet and nearby Chinese regions, reports were also emerging of a first protest in Beijing.

Several dozen students at a university for ethnic minorities in the Chinese capital staged a sit down protest at the apparent crushing of the unrest in Tibet, witnesses told Reuters. They said the demonstrators were dragged away.

Thousands of troops and paramilitary police were flooding into Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and provinces with large Tibetan populations amid reports that arrests were already beginning to be made in the city.

And Russia announced its willingness to look the other way. So, with the world paralyzed into inaction, foreign media expelled, and the Chinese government acting like a minor disturbance has been quelled with a minimum of violence, it's no surprise that ABC News reported this:

The Chinese military is shooting Tibetan demonstrators "like dogs," a Tibetan exile group said Monday, firing "indiscriminately" intro groups of people protesting Chinese rule.

The accusation was leveled by the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a group run by exiled Tibetans in Dharamsala, India, home to the Dalai Lama. Exile groups in India receive some of the few reports from inside Tibet and have provided some of the only reporting from there since last Monday, when the most significant Tibetan protests in 20 years began.

"People have been saying they're shooting our people like dogs," Tenzin Norgay, the spokesman for the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, told ABC News, citing his sources inside Tibet. He spoke just a few hours after a deadline set by the Chinese government expired for the protestors to stop or face a crackdown. The protests, he says, continued, and so did the retaliation.

"From reports we have been able to gather, the military forces, they do not tolerate anything more than a few minutes and then immediately they begin shooting or beating. And if the crowd goes out of control they shoot indiscriminately," Norgay said.

Turkana :: 11:51 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!