04/05/2008, 00.00
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New protests, the army shoots and kills at least eight Tibetans

Two days ago, more protests exploded in the Tibetan area of Sichuan. The crowd was asking for the release of two monks, guilty of possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama. Beijing admits to the protests, and according to witnesses the troops fired on the crowd.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - New protests exploded the night of April 3 in Donggu, in the county of Garze in the Tibetan area of Sichuan.  Witnesses report that the army fired on a crowd and killed eight Tibetans, while Beijing says only that of one of its own officials was wounded.

The English edition of the state news agency Xinhua says that "police were forced to fire warning shots and put down the violence, since local officials and people were in great danger".  The Chinese edition does not mention the incident.

Witnesses have instead reported to the group Free Tibet Campaign that the army fired on the crowd for no reason.  The police came to the Buddhist monastery of Tonkhor on April 2, to carry out the new "patriotic education campaign", which asks the monks to dissociate themselves from the Dalai Lama, and is intended to "intensify the patriotism and legal awareness of party members and officials" and of the population.  After the refusal of the head monk, Lobsang Jamyang, the following April 3 about 3,000 policemen entered by force.  They searched everywhere and arrested the monks Geshi Sonam Tenzing and Tsultrim Phuntsog, because among their belongings was a photograph of the Dalai Lama.

The 370 monks then went to the local government to ask for the release of their confreres, followed by about 400 people, and they were assured that they would be set free at eight o'clock that night.  After the time passed, when the monks and the other people went back to the government office, they encountered a roadblock and the soldiers fired on the crowd, killing at least eight people, including a monk and three women.

It is the first incident reported in over a week, and comes two days after Zhang Qingli, the communist party secretary in Tibet, assured that the authorities had obtained "an important victory" against the "separatist forces of the Dalai Lama". In Garze and in nearby Aba, serious clashes took place in March between the population, armed with stones and knives, and the police.  But only recently have official sources admitted that more than 200 policemen and officials have been wounded, and at least one killed, while they deny any deaths among the population, which pro-Tibet groups say have been numerous.  Since that time, the area has been controlled by the army.

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See also
Beijing imposes harsh sentences on Tibetan monks and lama
Tanks in Lhasa, Beijing issues an ultimatum to the Tibetans
Photos of the massacre in Tibet
Tibetan monk killed by Chinese police after setting himself on fire
Tibetan young man dies from injuries suffered in jail


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