Military patrols in Lhasa

Military patrols in Lhasa following the protests that began on March 10, 2008. The identifying markings of military vehicles believed to belong to the PLA, such as those pictured, have been covered.

The Dalai Lama has said that he feared about the reprisals that will follow from the Chinese government’s ultimatum to the Tibetans who have been demonstrating in Lhasa and other areas to surrender by midnight today.

Addressing members of the media gathered in Dharamsala yesterday, the Dalai Lama said such ultimatums are not the way to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people, according to Mr. Chhime Chhoekyapa of the Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama told the media that he had appealed to international leaders, including Chinese leaders, as well as his friends, to intervene so that the situation does not deteriorate.

In an interview with the BBC yesterday, the Dalai Lama said that the situation held resonances for him of the March 10 protests: “The Chinese side is determined, the Tibetan side is determined, and the result is: killing,” he said today in Dharamsala, India.

The Chinese government’s ultimatum for protesters, published below in full, to hand themselves in, is causing fear and tension in Tibet’s capital today. One source reported that people were fearful of a military sweep after midnight tomorrow. A number of former political prisoners, who are generally regarded with suspicion and monitored constantly by the authorities following their release, have reportedly been detained.

A translation into English by ICT of the document follows below. The order threatens those Tibetans “who harbor or hide criminal elements” with punishment, while it encourages people to inform on their neighbors and friends who protested by suggesting they will be given awards if they do.

Tibet Autonomous Region High People’s Court, Tibet Autonomous Regions High People’s Procuratorate, Tibet Autonomous Region Public Security Department

No. 1
March 15, 2008, 07:23

Since March 10 2008, a small number of illegal monks in the Lhasa area have continued to cause trouble, doing their utmost to cause social chaos. This has been a meticulously planned attempt by the Dalai clique to separate Tibet from the Motherland, and a plot to destroy the peace and security, harmony and normal productive lives of all nationalities in Tibet. On March 14 in particular, some criminals used violent tactics such as beating, smashing, looting, burning and killing, setting light to schools, hospitals, children’s activity centers, stores and people’s dwellings, and violently attacking Party and government offices and enterprise work units, setting light to cars, looting property, killing innocent masses, and surrounding and viciously beating law-enforcement personnel. Their behavior constitutes criminal activities under the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. For the purpose of urging these criminals to stop the criminal activities of organizing, planning and participating in beating, smashing, looting, burning and killing, and to submit themselves, and to encourage the broad masses to actively report on and expose criminal elements, a special notice follows:

1. Those who on their own volition submit themselves to police or judicial offices prior to midnight on March 17 shall be punished lightly or dealt mitigated punishment; those who surrender themselves and report on other criminal elements will be performing meritorious acts and may escape punishment. Criminal elements who do not submit themselves in time shall be punished severely according to law.

2. Those who harbor or hide criminal elements shall be punished severely according to law upon completion of investigations.

3. Those citizens who actively report and expose the criminal behavior of criminal elements shall receive personal protection, and granted commendations and awards.

Eyewitness reports from Lhasa

The following eyewitness reports, all received yesterday by ICT (March 16) give vivid accounts of the unfolding situation in Lhasa from Friday onwards, when events dramatically escalated following four days of peaceful protest led by monks from Drepung, Sera and Ganden. By Friday, the monasteries were under lockdown and there was a tense and intimidating atmosphere in the city. ICT has disguised the identity of these sources.

The first witness observes events from Friday in Lhasa:

“I have talked with army personnel and they appear very disorganised. They do not know what is going on and who is giving orders. A group of tourists was escorted out of the hotel and dropped on Jiangsu Lu. They were heavily questioned and asked where they had hidden their camera memory sticks. The Army guys said that they should look for a hotel as the one they had been staying in had burned. From what I understand…the army just left them there on Jiangsu Lu with no clue whatsoever!” “Now it looks like a total war zone. Maybe half the shops are burnt…hundreds of them. There is telegraph poles knocked down by tanks, a tank has driven straight over the top of an SUV out the front of the hotel. There is a barricade of smashed cars that the tanks have bulldozed into a protective ring around the Army compound out front of the Jokhang. We have heard that the army is inside the Jokhang but cannot go over there to look. We also heard reports of a young injured monk who looked unconscious being carried on the back of a soldier.”

“Yesterday we saw some very shocking things that I never want to see again.”

“I saw army going from door to door, knocking and sometimes dragging people outside. We could hear them banging on doors for some time. I saw what I think is Chinese special forces with high powered rifles. I saw one soldier fire his weapon into a shop. The noise was so loud. I couldn’t see what was inside. I haven’t seen any bodies on the street but I was inside during the worst of the action. The most horrible thing I saw was a person riding their bike down the road. A mob ran up behind them and pelted them with large rocks, knocking him/her to the ground.”

“I heard occasional gunfire (I assume it is gunfire) this morning. It is now quite quiet but everyone is very scared. We have enough food for some time but have heard of many Chinese workers locked in their workplaces and too scared to come out. Friends talked to some workers who said they had eaten all their Ramen noodles and had no food left.”

“Yesterday we saw the military escorting Chinese people out of the Barkor area under heavy guard. We think they were hiding in their shops and only came out when the military showed up. They looked very very scared.”

“Friends heard the train whistle or horn this morning so we think the train is running. But we assume only outgoing traffic. We think a lot of Chinese people will be leaving Lhasa.”

The enclosed eyewitness report has been edited in order to remove the person’s identity:

“I am inside a hotel on Beijing Lu and have been here since the start of the rioting. We cannot go outside. We really cannot see or hear much. We have heard that the Mosque is damaged and that the old part of town [Barkor] is now completely sealed off. We heard this morning that there had been a big clash with Muslims but have no confirmation of this. We are OK. They are serving only two meals a day as there is not much food. We are worried about running out of food.”

The following eyewitness statement was received by email from inside Lhasa and edited to remove details of identity before being sent to ICT:

“The rioting has been ALL over Lhasa (unlike 1989), with Chinese and Muslim (Hui, ethnic Chinese) shops being targeted and completely destroyed – probably over 1,000 Chinese owned shops all over Lhasa. It’s really a massive riot, with cars & motorbikes turned over then burned all over town, Chinese shops’ contents splayed out onto the streets, and Han Chinese being literally hunted down, beat up, and sometimes killed with large traditional Tibetan knives. The Han Chinese are terrified, and (surprisingly?) don’t understand what’s happening. All Tibetans we know think this will continue for days if not weeks, although the Jokhang square seemed to finally have been put under control late Friday evening, the mobs are moving west into the more predominantly Chinese parts of town.”

“Today (Saturday morning) is martial law [martial law is not believed to have been formally imposed, although eyewitness reports refer to security conditions that are similar], there are soldiers every five feet on all major roads (ie: just down the street from our hotel). Tanks are lining the main street in the old part of town (center of the trouble). One guy estimated 20,000 troops on the streets.”

“Yesterday’s riots were all over the entire city and undertaken by all kinds of Tibetans, one friend saw 11 year old students in their uniforms throwing stones at tanks.”

“We’ve been hearing loud booms / bangs (guns / tanks) throughout the day yesterday and some last night as well. Last night we heard a large group of voices singing in Tibetan somewhere within a couple blocks, a very curious response. [ ] There is still tremendous debris from the Chinese shops splayed out on the road [ ] and down the street, with Toilet Paper strewn on all the electrical wires all the way down [the] street.”

“We heard this morning that the raids will happen tomorrow morning [Sunday]. No Tibetans can walk around without ID cards. [We have heard] there are so called ‘massacres’ over by the Great Mosque, with intense fighting between Muslims & Tibetans. One Tibetan [told a friend] that he saw 50 Tibetans and a child get gunned down by soldiers on Ramoche street.” [Disturbing reports of what happened at Ramoche continue to emerge, but no confirmation is currently possible.]