Security in Tibetan region tightened, wounded hide

The London-based International Campaign for Tibet said three Tibetans were killed and nine wounded.

Last Updated: Jan 24, 2012, 23:27 PM IST

Beijing: About 30 Tibetans injured after
Chinese police fired into a crowd of protesters in a restive
southwestern region were seeking shelter on Tuesday in a monastery
while military forces surrounded the building, a Tibetan monk
said.

Chinese authorities said yesterday`s unrest was caused by
a "mob" and that overseas advocacy groups were twisting the
truth about what happened in order to undermine the
government.

The violence in Luhuo county in the politically sensitive
Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province comes amid high tensions
after at least 16 Buddhist monks, nuns and other Tibetans
self-immolated in the past year. Most have chanted for Tibetan
freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai
Lama, who fled to India amid an abortive uprising against
Chinese rule in 1959.

A monk from Luhuo county`s Shouling monastery, one of the
most famous monasteries in the region, told The Associated
Press by phone that 33 wounded people were being cared for in
a clinic within the religious compound. At least 50 military
vehicles were parked outside the monastery, he said.

"They want to take the injured people away but we won`t
let them because we don`t trust them, we don`t know what will
happen to them," said the monk, who would not give his name
out of fear of government retaliation. He said the monks
worried about the massive security response.

"We are all in the monastery. Without the local residents
around, the monks don`t dare to go out," he said.

Accounts of yesterday`s violence differ, and independent
confirmation is impossible due to a heavy security presence
and lack of access to outsiders. Tibet activist groups said
police opened fire on thousands of peaceful protesters, while
the Chinese government says a far smaller number of Tibetans
and police clashed after the Tibetans attacked a police
station and smashed cars.

The monk at the Shouling monastery said that the
protesters had been peaceful until police fired into the
crowd, killing one man. "When it all started we were only
standing in the streets shouting slogans," he said. After
police opened fire, the Tibetans responded by smashing police
cars and windows, he said. But he rejected official accounts
that five police were also injured in the clash.

He said Tibetans were frustrated by the government`s
tight restrictions on their religious practices.

"The Chinese government says we have religious freedom
but we have no freedom at all. If we did, then they would not
be talking badly about the Dalai Lama. They say you cannot
listen to the Dalai Lama, if we have pictures of the Dalai
Lama we have to take them down," he said. "This really hurts
our feelings; they hurt our self-esteem."

The London-based International Campaign for Tibet said
three Tibetans were killed and nine wounded, while another
group, Free Tibet, said one died and up to 30 others were shot
and wounded in Luhuo, also known as Draggo in Tibetan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei slammed such
groups, accusing them of exaggeration. Hong said order has
been restored after one Tibetan died and four others were
injured, and that five police were also wounded.

PTI