Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After 9 days of denials, the Chinese government from the Northern Gansu province, populated by Tibetans, admits that clashes between police and demonstrators in support of the Lhasa protest took place. Despite the fact that, photos of the massacre have reached the West, Beijing continues to deny that similar episodes also took place in Sichuan and Qinghai, all on the Tibetan border.
Government spokesman Zhang Yusheng, says: “Riots broke out continuously in recent days in Xiahe, Luchu and Machu counties. A small number of unlawful elements used violent means to carry out looting and destruction of shops, schools, hospitals and government buildings. Police exercised "maximum restraint" in quelling the unrest”. Zhang did not give any details of the clashes and denied that there were casualties.
In the meantime, repression is on the rise in Lhasa: Chinese authorities arrested over 24 people who took part in the protests organised in the capital. According to Xinhua – the state news agency – another 170 people have “spontaneously handed themselves in” to police.
Protests in Tibet began March 10th last, when hundreds of people – becoming thousands with time – demonstrated in Lhasa and in other towns and cities across Tibet to commemorate the victims of the bloody 1959 repression, carried out nu the Communist government against Tibetan’s who called for a return to independence. Over the past few days the Dalia Lama – the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism – has persistently called for protesters to follow the principal of non violence, even if Beijing accuses him of being behind the revolt. According to the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, victims of the repression are in the “hundreds”.
On the International front, Benedict XVI yesterday urged that the “path of dialogue and tolerance” is chosen by leader sin the region, while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced his intention of meeting with the Dalia Lama “as soon as he arrives in England”. Finally, Angela Merkel has halted the signing of commercial deals with China, under the conditions of “peaceful and direct negotiations between Beijing and the Dalai Lama”.