Senior Delegation to Lhasa Signals Continuation of Policies Causing Tibetan Grievances

Tibetan protests have continued and spread even in the presence of substantial security forces. As of March 27, the number of counties in which protests have occurred has increased to at least 42. Official Chinese reports have acknowledged more than 1,000 detentions of persons who surrendered to authorities for rioting. In addition, unofficial reports estimate that authorities have detained at least another 1,200 Tibetan protestors.

Current Status

PROTEST. As of March 27, Tibetan protests were reported in at least 42 county-level locations, as well as in Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan province), Lanzhou (the capital of Gansu province), and Beijing. Protests have occured at multiple locations in several counties.

Locations of the 42 counties: Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), 10; Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures (TAPs) in Qinghai, 12; TAPs in Gansu, 6; TAPs in Sichuan, 12; other county-level locations in Qinghai, 2. These figures show that about three-quarters of the county-level locations are outside the TAR. It remains unclear whether the protests have or have not spread widely in the TAR, or if information about their spread is unavailable.

DEATH. The estimated number of Tibetan deaths currently reported by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) and the Tibetan government-in-exile (TGiE) differ significantly.

TCHRD reported on March 25 a total of 79 Tibetan deaths.

The TGiE reported approximately 140 deaths as of March 25, and published a list of the names and details of 40 of the Tibetan deaths on March 26.

Following the Dalai Lama’s March 18 statement that he would ‘resign’ his role in political affairs if violence continued, the CECC saw no reports of violent incidents occurring on March 19-23.

A March 24 clash between Tibetan protestors and security forces in Luhuo (Draggo) county in Ganzi (Kardze) TAP resulted in the deaths of one Tibetan and one policeman, and injuries to other Tibetans and security personnel.

On March 25, the Dalai Lama repeated his intention to resign if violence continues.

DETENTION. In response to official ultimatums, authorities reported by March 27 the surrender of a total of more than 1,000 Tibetans who engaged in “beating, smashing, looting, and burning” during riots. Such information is not available for every area where rioting occurred. Most “but not all” Tibetan protests and protestors were peaceful. As of March 25, official detention and charge information is available for fewer than 15 cases of peaceful protest (Lhasa, March 10).

Number and location of 1,044 surrenderors: Lhasa (280 by March 25); Linzhou (Lhundrub) county (94 by March 17); Gannan (Kanlho) TAP, Gansu (289 by March 23); Aba (Ngaba) county, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan (381 by March 24).

TCHRD estimated that authorities detained more than 1,200 Tibetan protestors as of March 25. The figure does not include Tibetans who surrendered to authorities.

The unofficial estimate of 1,200 detainees may be low. The number of protestors whom police detain is likely to be significantly higher, perhaps by a multiple, than the number of Tibetans who surrender voluntarily for committing violent acts during a riot.

Senior Delegation to Lhasa Signals Continuation of Policies Causing Tibetan Grievances

SENIOR OFFICIALS VISIT LHASA. The first high-level delegation of senior Party and government officials to Lhasa since the outbreak of the protests visited Lhasa on March 23-24. Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu led the delegation. The group visited sites including Drepung and Sera Monasteries and the Jokhang Temple. In addition to Meng, the delegation included Minister Ye Xiaowen of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, as well as Zhu Weiqun and Sita, senior officials in the Party’s United Front Work Department – among the officials most directly associated with the policies and conditions against which Tibetans have protested.

Attacks on the Dalai Lama, Patriotic Education. Meng told members of management committees at the monasteries that the Dalai Lama is “unfit to be a true follower of Buddhism,” and that the Party and government would “deepen education in patriotism” in monasteries.

Interference with the Institution of Tibetan Buddhist Reincarnated Teachers. Ye Xiaowen oversaw the issuing last year of national regulations that control the recognition, seating, and instruction of persons whom Tibetans believe are reincarnated Buddhist teachers.

Stalled China-Dalai Lama dialogue. Zhu Weiqun and Sita have served as interlocutors for the Dalai Lama’s envoys during their visits to China since the dialogue resumed in 2002. The Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy issued his least optimistic statement to date following the most recent round of dialogue in June-July of 2007.