China detains 100s in Tibet capital

2012-05-31 09:05

Beijing - Hundreds of people have been detained in Lhasa after two men set themselves on fire in the Tibetan regional capital on Sunday in protest against Chinese rule, a US-based broadcaster reported.

Radio Free Asia said Chinese security forces had rounded up hundreds of residents and pilgrims in the wake of the immolations, the first significant protest in the heavily guarded city since deadly anti-government riots in 2008.

It quoted a local source as saying about 600 Tibetans had been detained and those from outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) had been expelled.

At the time of the protest, Lhasa was filled with Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims who had travelled to the city to celebrate Saga Dawa - the anniversary of Buddha's birth.

The two protesters, who were both from outside the TAR, set themselves on fire in front of the famed Jokhang Temple, a popular pilgrimage destination in the centre of Lhasa.

Police immediately put out the flames and one of the two men survived, according to state news agency Xinhua. His current whereabouts are not known.

Sunday's incident was the first of its kind in the Tibetan capital, which has been under tight security since deadly anti-Chinese government riots broke out there in 2008.

Residents of Lhasa said the city was under even tighter security than usual following Sunday's protest, with police and paramilitary officers out in force.

Identity checks

One resident contacted by AFP on Monday said police were carrying out identity checks in the streets and that mobile telephone signals had been blocked.

Free Tibet, a London-based campaign group, also said it had received reports that Tibetan residents in Lhasa had been arbitrarily detained in the wake of the protest.

Tibetans have long chafed under China's rule over the vast Tibetan plateau, saying that Beijing has curbed religious freedoms and their culture is being eroded by an influx of Han Chinese, the country's main ethnic group.

Beijing insists that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and have benefited from improved living standards brought on by China's economic expansion.
Mother of three
Meanwhile, AP reported on Thursday that a Tibetan mother of three has died in the latest in a recent wave of self-immolations to protest Chinese rule.

The woman set herself on fire outside a Buddhist monastery Won ednesday afternoon in an ethnically Tibetan region of western Sichuan province.

She died at the scene, according to London-based Free Tibet and US government-backed broadcaster Radio Free Asia.

That would mark at least the 35th Tibetan self-immolation since March of last year to draw attention to China's restrictions on Buddhism and call for the return from exile of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Chinese authorities have confirmed some of the self-immolations but not all.

  • Fidel - 2012-05-31 09:55 Tibetan claiming for independence from Beijing, but religious freedom and some autonomy. Most liberals won't be happy with this.

  • Henry - 2012-05-31 10:00

    Since China invaded and occupied Tibet in the 50's they have settled so people that 1 in 5 citizens of Tibet is now a Han chinese. When the next great war comes and China loses,Tibet is freed,will they let the chinese stay like the good Bhudists they are,or will they do like the chinese and detain/massacre the occupiers?

      Fidel - 2012-05-31 10:23

      Throughout history, Tibet has always been part of China but with limited autonomy. It was the CIA in the 50s that encouraged the Tibetans to cede from Chinese rule as the Americans wanted another frontline state to curb communist China's influence. People like you should study history instead of listening to what western liberals tell you. China's borders have not changed in about 3000 years. What the Chinese did was not to annex Tibet, but to reclaim it!

      Larry - 2012-05-31 10:47

      What then is the opposite of a western liberal? A Third World fascist?

      Fidel - 2012-05-31 11:17

      Binary world view seen only through George Bush' s lens of BLACK and WHITE, US vs THEM! No shadings of GREY?

  • John - 2012-05-31 11:34

    You cannot believe reports from Radio Free Asia and Free Tibet broadcasters. They are liars. As far as I know, no people is detained in Lhasa as what these broadcasters reported. Only criminals are arrested.

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