Category Archives: violence

“Chinese take to streets on reports truck driver killed by police”

Reuters on the newest mass protests to emerge in Sichuan:

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the southwestern Chinese city of Luzhou on Wednesday after reports a truck driver had been beaten to death by policemen, residents said, but state media said the driver had died after falling ill.

“People are very angry about this and are out on the streets to show their anger,” said one resident of the Hongxingcun neighbourhood where the unrest was focused. He did not witness the incident and declined to give his name.

A manager at a local restaurant who gave her family name as Wang added that several thousand people had taken to the streets.

Images posted later in the evening showed overturned police cars, some of which had been set alight. Some Weibo posts said police had used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

The official Xinhua news agency said the driver had “suddenly felt uncomfortable” during a scuffle with police about where to park his truck, and doctors called to the scene were unable to save his life.

“As a result, some people attacked police cars at the site, the report added.

I hope ‘suddenly felt uncomfortable’ will join the ranks of sad excuse catchphrases of the year.

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“The Body Count”

Elliot Sperling has a pretty chilling post about the mass killings that took place in Tibet during the two decades immediately following the Chinese invasion. The recent discovery of mass graves has brought this topic back into the light, although it’s still completely denied by the Chinese government:

In May, just a few months ago, preparations were made for the start of a building project in Nang-chen county in the modern Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, part of what was once the old kingdom of Nang-chen in Upper Kham. This is also the site of some of the instances of self-immolation, the act of protest that has been repeated again and again across Tibet and in exile over the last several years. As the ground was turned to start the construction of a house, something horrid—unexpected and uninvited—suddenly materialized. Human bones began emerging from below the soil. Lots of them, it was said.

The images are clear, the local explanations were whispered: it was where monks and laypeople had been massacred in 1958, a bloody, terrible year in Eastern Tibet.

Elsewhere in Yushu, in the grasslands near Dpal-thang, the commencement of another construction project for houses brought more of the same: three mass burial pits filled with human remains. But not everything had decomposed, it was said. There were remnants of the clothes that the victims were wearing when they were thrown in: both lay clothing and monastic robes. The long hair of some of the dead was also still there. According to elders these pits were from 1958 too, with bodies added as a result of later famine deaths around 1960. Several trucks were needed to take the remains away.

In place of intense criticism or condemnation of the Chinese authorities, who have for decades refused to open up records relating to what took place in Tibet (let alone of those whom the records would likely implicate in the savagery), there is a sort of indulgence that one might call the Chinese dispensation: the actions of China are to be seen as something akin to natural phenomena for which little or no moral judgment or critique is imaginable. It is the other actors who should be judged. This can involve the selective use of available (and problematic) Chinese statistics as well as the ascription of much, if not most, of the population loss in Tibet to migration and exile. And there is also the common, droning refrain that accounts from Tibetan exiles are exaggerated and can’t be trusted. Instead of seeking to work through exaggerations to find underlying truths, this rhetorical device is deployed to dismiss, tout court, testimony from those who have fled Tibet. Hence this sentence (from the pen of Barry Sautman): “The [1.2 million] figure is not based on eyewitness accounts or access to state statistics, and refugee reports have often been skewed to please exile authorities.” Well, at least it implies the existence of Chinese records on the subject. Still, if passed over too quickly a reader might not fully take in that the criticism contained in it is directed not at China for preventing access to those records but at Tibetans for not using them: records to which neither they nor any serious researchers are allowed access! And then there’s the schizophrenia of: a) removing from consideration any accounts (including those by eyewitnesses) reported in exile because they are ‘skewed’ and then, having done so; b) saying Tibetans don’t have “eyewitness” accounts… Of course, the utter unreliability of the 1.2 million figure is not an issue of real contention among serious observers: Human Rights Watch already in 1988 termed it unverifiable. But this is not the same as dismissing (as Sautman does) the fact of mass killings in Tibet in the first decades of rule by the PRC.

Do read the rest, although be warned: the topic itself is grim enough, and there are pictures from one of the mass graves found recently.

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“Tibetans clash with police in west China; 1 dead”

Two more Tibetans have self-immolated in Ngaba, and the AP has a story about the violence that followed:

Police in far west China beat a Tibetan man to death during a clash that broke out after two Tibetans set themselves on fire, a U.S. broadcaster said Tuesday, in the worst flaring of violence in the region in months.

The violence occurred Monday in Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture, which has emerged as a center of political activism and the site of dozens of self-immolations in the past few years. The area, home to the influential Kirti Monastery, has been flooded with security forces, but they have been unable to stop the immolation protests.

Radio Free Asia said in an emailed statement that a Kirti monk named Lungtok and another man, identified only as Tashi, set themselves alight Monday evening. It cited a Tibetan in the Aba area who was not identified by name and other unidentified people inside Tibet.

The report said a large number of police tried to clear the immolation site and ended up clashing with Tibetans.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Aba police department said there had been no immolations or confrontations between police and Tibetan locals. “Nothing like that has happened,” said the woman, who like many bureaucrats in China refused to give her name. The phone of the local Communist Party Propaganda Office rang unanswered.

Nearly 50 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China since 2009, with many shouting anti-government slogans and calling for the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. At least 17 were monks or former monks from Kirti, according to an earlier tally from the International Campaign for Tibet.

Monday’s clash with police marked the worst flaring of violence in Sichuan since a series of protests in January that Tibetan activist groups say left six Tibetans dead. The Chinese government said at the time that two rioters were killed.

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“Slain Uyghurs Not Linked to Bomb”

Another incredibly unsurprising report about the Xinjiang shootings, where it turns out the Uyghurs killed weren’t actually terrorist bomb-makers:

Four Uyghur men shot dead by police in China’s troubled Xinjiang region last week were not linked to bomb-making activities as suspected but may have had “terror plans,” security officials said Tuesday, as residents disputed any terrorism intentions.

Korla police said that there was evidence that the men, who defended themselves with knives during the raid, had plans for terrorist activity, though they did not elaborate.

Local residents who knew the Uyghurs involved disputed the police theory that those killed were suspected terrorists, claiming that the Chinese authorities had fabricated evidence in the past to justify the killings of Uyghurs.

“Yes, it was wrong to make the conjecture [that they were linked], but the shooting was not wrong, because the four disobeyed police during the raid operation,” said Seypidin, a senior security official in Korla.

Moreover, the four killed had shown evidence of extremism, he said, defending the police action.

“Even though they don’t have an organizational link with the bomb-maker, their ideology and political views are 100 percent the same. And in addition, we found enough evidence of a terror plan, like axes and boxing gloves,” he said.

Boxing gloves: evidence of a terror plan, when in the possession of a minority in China.

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“Uyghurs ‘Prepared To Fight And Die'”

RFA has the latest on a story that’s slowly been breaking over the last two days. More violence in Xinjiang:

Four Uyghur men shot dead by Chinese authorities last week for suspected bomb-making in the restive northwestern Xinjiang region were prepared for their death and even had made their own funeral arrangements, according to police.

The men were gunned down in a pre-dawn raid at a farmhouse near Korla city in central Xinjiang on Thursday as part of the Chinese government’s “strike hard” anti-crime campaign in the region.

The four men, armed only with knives, knew they had no chance against the gun-toting police.

They gave farewell hugs to their wives and children and made their own funeral arrangements before confronting the pursuers, officers who supervised the operation said.

Six policemen were initially involved in the raid at the farmhouse near Korla city in the Bayin’gholin prefecture but they had to seek reinforcements after a police officer’s arms were chopped at by an assailant, they said.

Seypidin said some top officials had criticized the police operation because none of the suspects were captured alive.

Police identified the ringleader of the suspected bomb-making activity as Nesrulla, who they said moved to the farmhouse from Korla city after a warrant for his arrest was issued on March 5.

Nesrulla also moved his wife and their son to Hejing county two days before the shooting.

Police who monitored the wife’s house in Hejing had detained 12 people who visited her.

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“WUC Firmly Rejects Beijing´s Accusations regarding Kargilik Incident”

“Firmly rejects”? Sounds like someone is using Beijing-style speech patterns against them. The World Uyghur Congress takes on the way Beijing is portraying the Kargilik incident:

In light of the recent violent incident in Kargilik (Chinese: Yecheng), Kashgar Prefecture, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly refutes Beijing´s accusations that the WUC has masterminded and incited the incident. The WUC hereby reiterates once again its strong commitment to the principle of nonviolence, and to peaceful and democratic means for the solution of the conflict in East Turkestan. The WUC urges the international community to not get drawn into China´s official propaganda regarding the issues related to the Uyghur people.

In typical fashion, the Chinese authorities are labelling the Kargilik incident as a “terrorist attack,” recalling the so-called “three evils” (terrorism, separatism, extremism). While social tensions and protests are springing up throughout the country, only events related to the Uyghur Muslim population are considered “terrorism.” The incident has taken place amidst a heavy crackdown on Uyghurs’ human rights, especially in areas of religious freedom, increased and tightened security presence in East Turkestan, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances amongst the Uyghur population.

Immediately following the incident, the Chinese security forces mobilized a large number of armed personnel to enforce the imposition of martial law in the city. The authorities prohibited inhabitants to leave the city as traffic to and from Kargilik was blocked. In addition, information on the incident is being reportedly censored in Chinese media and internet.

The incident comes only a few weeks after seven Uyghurs were extra-judicially killed in Guma (Chinese: Pishan) County in an alleged attempt to flee the country in December 2011. A six-year-old boy is still missing since the incidents. One month later, in January 2012, the Chinese authorities announced that 8,000 police officers were recruited to “beef up security in the vast countryside” and “crack down on illegal religious activities.” One month after the Hotan and Kashgar incidents in July 2011, the Chinese government implemented a two-month “Strike Hard” campaign in East Turkestan “in order to strengthen anti-terrorism efforts.”

I’ve seen people trying to equivocate about the difference between Xinhua and WUC press releases, but while they both have an agenda, can anyone really say the WUC has the same disregard for the truth as Xinhua? A proud one-party state propaganda outlet should be presumed guilty until proven innocent, especially when they have a decades-long record of lying about ethnic problems.

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More on Kargilik

More and more details are getting out now, as news organizations and Uyghur groups start contacting their sources in the area. First, RFA with more on exactly what happened:

Local officials, meanwhile, were striving to keep a lid on rumors swirling after the worst violence in seven months in the volatile region and have given strict orders to government employees not to speak to the media.

But a senior official told RFA that he had witnessed the violence which left nearly 20 dead on a busy street in Kargilik (in Chinese, Yecheng) county in Kashgar prefecture on Tuesday night.

“We saw the people were crying and fleeing and later all the streets in the town were blocked by police,” said Abdukeyim, chief of the county’s land management department, just 100 meters (330 feet) from a market where the violence occurred.

“This morning I attended a conference held by the county which all chiefs of county level departments were present at. Attendees were given a brief report on the incident,” Abdukeyim said.

“According to the report, nine [Uyghurs] took part in the attack and eight of them were shot [dead] by police. Ten Han [Chinese] were killed and five were injured.”

Several residents of Kargilik county interviewed by RFA Wednesday said the violence stemmed from a massive influx of Han Chinese, resulting in fewer economic opportunities for the Uyghur community.

One Uyghur resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Uyghurs were fed up with being treated like second class citizens in their traditional homeland.

“Growing up in a village, I had never even seen a Han Chinese before I was 18 year old. Now you can see Han Chinese in all corners of Kargilik county,” he said.

“Their population is exploding and they have now occupied almost all of the towns in the county.”

“The flood of immigrants was a key reason behind the attack.”

A Han Chinese doctor from Bo-Ai Hospital in Kaghilik county expressed sympathy for the region’s Uyghurs, saying that Tuesday’s attack could have been an act of frustration with the government’s measures against the minority ethnic group.

“I think the sense of dissatisfaction and resistance is a direct result of the government enforcing a high-pressure policy on Uyghur people,” said the doctor, who says he had good relations with Uyghur doctors at the hospital.

“I have a very good relationship with my Uyghur colleagues at the hospital. I don’t want to see this kind thing happen, but I also don’t want to see excessive controls on the local Uygur people,” he said.

A senior teacher in Kargilik county compared Han immigrants in the area to an invading army.

“Yes, it’s true that civilians were targeted in the attack, but in the view of the Uyghurs—myself included—there is no difference between Han civilians and the army,” he said, citing the July 5, 2009 riots in which he claimed Han Chinese civilians attacked Uyghur civilians “with support of the armed police.”

The teacher also complained that nearly all Han citizens in Xinjiang sided with the government on all ethnic issues.

“They never ask the government to end religious pressure on the local people, to stop arrests and executions, or call for equal job opportunities,” the teacher said.

He said Han citizens were likely targeted because the Uyghurs were not well armed enough to take on the security forces.

“The difference in power of arms between the two sides is incomparable. You can’t do anything to the armed police with a knife,” he said.

“I think this is the main reason they attacked Han civilians.”

Attacks on civilians in Xinjiang and self-immolations in Tibet. Wouldn’t it be nice if Beijing hadn’t cut off every other way for minorities to express their discontentment?

A new blog called Xinjiang Source has a post about why Beijing is trying to conflate separatism and terrorism. Obviously this isn’t a new tactic, and the Three Evils campaigns have paved the way for it, but the conscious effort to muddle the two has been in full swing recently:

However, there is a stand-out feature of the reports that have emerged; the immediate labeling of the Uyghur individuals involved as ‘terrorists.’ This is a common response by the Chinese authorities when dealing with high-profile incidents involving Uyghurs, be they violent or non-violent, and be they instigated by Uyghurs or not. The words ‘terrorists’ and ‘separatists’ are used interchangeably to mean the same thing, and are seemingly used to decry any Uyghur individual who engages in activism of any kind.

By labeling Uyghur individuals as ‘terrorists’, the Chinese authorities seek and are granted legitimation to enact the liberty-limiting policies which they so clearly pursue in Xinjiang, in order to preserve the ‘security’ which is threatened.

By the standards Beijing is using, a man blowing up a public bus and a man distributing fliers calling for new ethnic policies are the same thing- terrorists. What’s sad is seeing that the policy occasionally works, as we saw recently with American senator Mark Kirk, who spoke about the need to be wary against “terrorism” in Xinjiang.

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“Dozen Killed in Xinjiang Violence”

New reports of deaths in Xinjiang via RFA:

About a dozen people were killed Tuesday in violence involving ethnic Uyghurs and Han Chinese in China’s volatile northwestern Xinjiang region, according to state media and a Uyghur source.

The Xinhua News Agency said “a few rioters” armed with knives attacked “victims” in Kargilik (in Chinese, Yecheng) county in Kashgar prefecture, killing 10 people.

Police then shot dead “two assailants” and “are chasing the rest,” Xinhua said, without mentioning the number of suspects in the latest violence to rock Xinjiang.

However, an email sent to RFA by a Uyghur, who did not identify himself, said that the violence was triggered by an insult thrown at a Uyghur youth by three Han Chinese men at the county’s market.

A group of youths aged around 18 years attacked the three Han Chinese, resulting in their death, according to the email.

“Armed police then came in and killed 12 Uyghur youths,” the email said.

Both the Xinhua account and details contained in the Uyghur email could not be independently confirmed.

I can’t blame RFA from not wanting to base their entire story on an anonymous Uyghur email… but given Xinhua having a 0% accuracy rate when it comes to violence in minority areas, it kinda makes sense. More if other details emerge.

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“Rare visit to remote Chinese region shows depth of Tibetan despair”

Days after The Guardian managed to sneak a reporter into Ngaba, Tom Lasseter from McClatchy has done the same thing. His report is incredible and horrifying and absolutely must be read:

The monk reached into the folds of his red robe, pulled out a small notebook, and gently slipped from its pages a tiny photograph.

The man in the creased picture was a relative. He used to be a fellow monk at the monastery perched in snow-wrapped mountains outside the town of Aba. Then a Chinese security officer killed him, the monk said.

A McClatchy reporter last week apparently became the first from an American news organization to make it to Aba since the chain of self-immolations began in March. To do so, he hid on the rear floor of a vehicle under two backpacks and a sleeping bag as it passed through multiple checkpoints.

Beijing has long blamed unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas on conspiracies hatched by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

But conversations with ethnic Tibetans here and elsewhere in Sichuan province, where almost all of the self-immolations have occurred, suggest that China’s authoritarian policies designed to tamp down disorder are fueling the troubles.

Sections of the town famous for its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries have come to resemble an armed camp. A few blocks from the entrance, paramilitary police stood behind riot gates with shotguns and assault rifles. Three large troop-carrier trucks sat on the side of the road, flanked by more men with guns. Up ahead, traffic wound through further riot gates and troop positions not unlike those used in counterinsurgency efforts.

Chinese officials point out that they’ve spent billions of dollars constructing hospitals, roads and schools in Tibet, which is referred to by Beijing as an autonomous region, and nearby areas like those in Sichuan.

Or as a billboard depicting green fields and blue waters outside Maierma Township, approximately 20 miles from Aba, puts it: “Building a civilized, new Aba together.”

Many ethnic Tibetans recognize the benefits of the government’s projects. But they chafe at the government’s restrictions on free expression of their culture and religious practices, and they speak of anguish over being separated from the Dalai Lama.

The lingering threat of police showing up at their doorstep has by all accounts made the situation even more complicated for ethnic Tibetans.

The younger brother, in his early 20s and with plans to move to a bigger city, finished the sentence with an assertion that no one contradicted.

“The people lighting themselves on fire do it because they are suffering … or because one of their family members has been killed by the government and they are now filled with hatred,” he said. “They are doing these things because they want to express their pain and their hardship.”

The majority of Tibetans approached in the area said they couldn’t discuss such issues.

One herder near the town of Chali, about 30 miles east of Aba, gestured for a reporter to follow him to his house. Once inside, the 67-year-old man with tough, thick hands shook his head, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t dare talk about this.”

Official documents describing his arrest said that he and others had taken part in an action that “disrupted public order” and caused a traffic jam. The monk keeps the papers tucked in a plastic bag even though they’re written in Mandarin, a language he doesn’t understand well.

The monk said he was held in jail and fed such small amounts of thin porridge that it became difficult to stand up. He was then transferred to a reform-through-labor camp. “They told me that the Dalai Lama group is an obstacle to our road to peace,” said the monk, who was reluctant to describe the nearly two-year experience.

His relative never made it back — he died in custody, the result of being beaten in the head and then not receiving medical treatment, according to the monk and others at the monastery.

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“Lessons from Ge Xun’s forced disappearance”

Seeing Red in China is really turning into a great blog- after translating Ge Xun’s account of his detainment, Tom has drawn some conclusions from it. Namely:

China is becoming bolder in its violation of human rights
The state is fully aware of its activists, and actively supports their detention
The state fundamentally misunderstands activists

Check out his reasoning here.

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“21 Hours in Beijing”

For a dose of horror check out Seeing Red in China, where contributor Ya Xue has translated the account of Chinese American activist Ge Xun’s detainment in China. Here’s the introduction- please do read the whole thing:

I came to the United States to study physics in 1986 and stayed and became an American citizen. I believe in universal values such as freedom and basic human rights. I admire the best of humans wherever I see it, and I do what I do openly with nothing to hide.

My mother died at 83 on January 24, 2012, in Beijing. I flew back on the 28th for her funeral. By the 31st my siblings and I had taken care of everything and made arrangements to put my parents’ remain together.

For the rest of my stay I planned to meet a few people, among them, Ding Zilin (丁子霖), or the “Tian’anmen Mother” (天安门母亲) as she has been known. She is a retired professor, and her son, a high school student, died during the June 4th crackdown in 1989. For more than two decades, she has been working hard, against harsh and persistent obstruction by the government, to preserve the memory of the event, recover more truth, and help families of other victims. Without her own son by her side, I wished to bring her perhaps a little bit of comfort and love. I called and made an appointment to visit her at 3pm the next day.

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Friday, February 3rd: Tibet Media Eruption

The growing magnitude of the crackdown is finally drawing increased media scrutiny, although reporters are being barred from entering Ngaba and Kardze. I’ll try to get through all the major points in one post, but if more articles keep coming out at this rate there might be cause for a second one later.

First, RFA reports on the situation in Lhasa:

“Any migrants in Lhasa have been placed under surveillance as of [Tuesday],” Jampel Monlam said. “Any Tibetans from outside Lhasa who haven’t got a temporary residence permit are being thrown out of the city.”

“Some of them are being transported back to [Tibetan] areas of Qinghai and Sichuan.”

He said some Lhasa-based Tibetans had also been detained, apparently as a precaution. “They are probably afraid that there will be some kind of political problem.”

Lhasa officials have been told to tighten management of the city’s migrant population by changing housing rental, household registration, and transitory residential permit issuance policies, the paper said.

Regional border checkpoints will now require anyone entering Tibet to carry identification starting from March 1.

An employee surnamed Zhao who answered the phone at a Lhasa-based travel agency on Thursday said there were virtually no tourists left in the city.

“There’s no one here,” he said.

He said police had recently stopped issuing two-month and three-month tourism permits to Tibet to foreign nationals.

Next, ICT has more images from inside Tibet, this time of the aftermath of the shooting in Serthar.

The Guardian is reporting that China has cut off internet and mobile phone service to much of Tibetan Sichuan:

“After the riots, internet connections and mobile phone signals were cut off for over 50km [30 miles] around the riot areas. Police believe external forces played a part in the riots,” the newspaper said.

In 2009, China cut off internet and text messaging services across the north-western region of Xinjiang after ethnic riots in the capital, Urumqi, left almost 200 dead.

Officials blamed “trained separatists” for instigating the events in Ganzi. They have also sought to blame outsiders for a string of self-immolations by Tibetan clergy and laypeople over the last year, mostly in Sichuan.

China appears to have stepped up security across other Tibetan areas, with the top party official in Lhasa urging security forces to increase surveillance of monasteries and main roads in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

This is another one of the those cases where China gets hemmed in by its own ludicrous propaganda. Because every problem needs to be blamed on “external forces,” they have to cut all ties to the outside world, which makes everything seem even more suspicious to foreign journalists. Does cutting off the internet and cellphone network actually break lines of communication with the nefarious plotters of the unrest, or does it just mean that a) people who would otherwise be sitting around in internet cafes are instead on the streets and b) anger everyone in the area who can’t live normally without telephones? I’m pretty sure the Egyptian government didn’t do itself any favors when it tried the same tactic.

Next, Reuters speculates that these intense showdowns could be a taste of what China is in for if the Dalai Lama passes in exile:

China’s hardline rulers may have reason to miss him when he’s gone. The aging spiritual leader’s presence and message of non-violence have kept a damper on unrest but, once he dies, things could worsen rapidly.

With unrest in once-quiet areas of the Tibetan plateau and little prospect for direct talks between China and the Tibetan government-in-exile, concern is growing that violence will boil over upon the death of the Dalai Lama.

If nothing changes, Beijing will likely respond with the same tough measures it has used for decades.

“Given the centrality of the demand among Tibetans that the Dalai Lama be allowed to return to Tibet, were he to pass away in exile abroad, it could spark an unpredictable wave of protests far greater than 2008 and an even harsher crackdown,” Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said.

While Lhasa erupted in violence in the 1980s and 1990s, Tibetans in Sichuan, Qinghai and other regions were calm. Sichuan has also seen violence and even traditions are changing.

Barnett said some in those eastern areas who typically celebrate their new year at the same time as most Chinese are delaying the holiday about a month to coincide with the new year of central Tibetans, who for centuries have been more closely aligned with the Dalai Lamas.

“China has turned vast areas of the Tibetan plateau into areas of Tibetan national sentiment,” he said.

“Why they imposed this policy in eastern Tibet where there were no real problems — historians are going to be asking why did we do this? Why did we lose Tibet?”

Adrienne Mong from MSNBC was turned back at a checkpoint in Sichuan, and filed this report from Chengdu:

However, the crackdown taking place across China’s Tibetan communities is not so much just another stage of a cycle that’s repeating itself as it is perhaps growing evidence that March 2008 was a turning point.

“The region has never recovered from the 2008 repression,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who monitors the region.

“That really was a turning point. We’re still in the aftermath of this very, very severe repression that took place in 2008…. Over the years, [Chinese officials] have shifted from trying to gain the consent of the Tibetan people to basically riding roughshod.”

Reports of the crackdown have been cast against the backdrop of several upcoming events: the Tibetan New Year, the anniversary of the March 10, 2008, protests, and the Chinese Communist Party Congress. The party congress, which takes place every five years, is an especially sensitive event this time as it will usher in a massive leadership changeover.

But Beijing has also painted itself into a corner.

“The government has no room for compromise, because they insist on this depiction of the reality that is absurd,” said Bequelin. A reality, he continued, that claims that Tibet is a harmonious place populated by happy Tibetan people grateful for the economic growth Beijing has brought them.

Finally (for now), RFA has more about how Tibetan pilgrims returning from India are being treated:

In a surprising move, China had earlier allowed about 9,000 Tibetans to travel to India to take part in the ten-day Kalachakra religious festival conducted in Bodh Gaya in January by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama—a figure reviled by Chinese leaders as a separatist.

Upon their return over the last two weeks, however, Tibetans from the eastern regions of Amdo and Kham were “rounded up, transported, and interrogated by the Chinese authorities,” a source in Tibet’s exile community said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in Tibet.

“They were asked about the places they visited in India, what the Dalai Lama told them, what they know of the plans of the Tibetan exile government, whom they met, and so on.”

Younger Tibetans in the group were questioned especially closely, the source said.

Tibetans returning to their China-controlled homeland via the Dram border post on the border with Nepal were taken directly to the central Tibetan city of Shigatse, the source said.

There, any Tibetans who had come from Amdo and Kham were forced onto trains and told to return to their native place.

“Normally, those pilgrims spend time in the Lhasa area and visit temples and other holy sites,” the source said. “But now, they were put onto trains and told to return to their hometowns [in the east].”

One group of Tibetan pilgrims from Amdo was sent on Feb. 2 by train from Lhasa to the Gansu provincial capital of Lanzhou, a source inside Tibet said.

“None of them knows what their fate will be when they reach Lanzhou,” he said.

Meanwhile, a microblog message from a Tibetan living in Lhasa described intensified surveillance by Chinese authorities in the city.

“Last night, Chinese police searched all the Tibetan families in our area three times,” the message read.

“They are especially hard on the Tibetan pilgrims returning from India. They are being harassed and interrogated again and again.”

Authorities in the Tibetan capital are also blocking news of recent protests in Tibetan-populated areas of China in which as many as six may have been killed and an unknown number injured, a Tibetan living in Lhasa said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The local media do not talk or write about those protests. The communication lines with those Tibetan areas in Amdo and Kham are cut off.”

“We are seriously concerned that the Chinese could be severely cracking down on the Tibetans in those areas,” he said.

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More Fallout From Amdo and Kham Shootings

More media outlets are starting to catch on to the trouble in eastern Tibet, although this story still has a way lower profile than it deserves. The Globe and Mail writes about how Beijing is reacting to the protests:

A string of mountain towns along the edge of the Tibetan Plateau that set out to mourn, rather than celebrate, the Chinese lunar new year are now under lockdown following days of clashes between Tibetan protesters and Chinese police that left several people dead.

Tens of thousands of residents of the towns of Serthar and Luhuo – and more in the surrounding Tibetan-populated western corner of Sichuan province – have been effectively cut off from the outside world after the violence. Telephone and Internet services to the region have apparently been severed, and checkpoints have been set up along the roads to control who gets in and out.

“We’re now seeing the protest is shifting from individual monks and nuns to the lay community,” said Robert Barnett, director of the Modern Tibet Studies program at Columbia University in New York. “It does seem to be that if the government doesn’t respond to these grievances, there will be more protests.”

China’s official Xinhua newswire acknowledged this week’s clashes, reporting that two Tibetans were killed in “premeditated and organized” incidents that saw rioters armed with knives and stones attack Chinese-owned stores and a police station. Xinhua said lethal force was used “after efforts involving persuasion and non-lethal weapon defence failed to disperse the mob.” Five policemen were said to be among the wounded.

Great, the lying machine has given its two cents. They apparently expect the world to believe that Tibetan crowds have so mercilessly hounded the innocent Chinese paramilitary police that the police were forced to go wild and kill them in self-defense? Like that article yesterday said, that’s how you lose a media war.

AFP has more on the latest Ngaba shooting:

Urgen, a 20-year-old Tibetan, died Thursday in Sichuan’s Rangtang county when police fired into a crowd trying to stop them from detaining another man, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and India-based TCHRD said.

A Rangtang government official surnamed Wu told AFP Friday that there had been no protest.

“It is not convenient to talk about this. There is no need to contact others at this moment. Nobody will tell you anything,” he said.

According to ICT and TCHRD, which have sources with contacts in the area, the incident in Rangtang was triggered by a youth named Tarpa, who posted a leaflet stating Tibet must be free and the Dalai Lama must return.

He printed his name and photo on the leaflet and said authorities could arrest him if they wanted, ICT said.

Later that day, security forces came to detain him at home, and as they were taking him away, people tried to stop them. Police then shot into the crowd, killing Urgen and wounding several others, the group said.

The unrest comes at a time of rising tensions in Tibetan-inhabited areas, where at least 16 people have set themselves ablaze in less than a year — including four this month alone — prompting an increase in security.

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Third Round of Shootings in Eastern Tibet

This time in Ngaba, one of the focal points of this ongoing conflict:

At around 12 noon local time, a Tibetan man named Tharpa put up signed flyers around Zu To Bharma Shang, declaring that until the demands of the Tibetans who have self-immolated are met, Tibetans will never abandon their struggle and continue to organise more campaigns.

Two hours later, at around 2 pm local time, Chinese security personnel surrounded Tharpa’s home and arrested him. A crowd of gathered Tibetans outside the house stopped the Chinese police from taking him away saying that “all local Tibetans will rise up in protest” if Tharpa is arrested.

Following the confrontation, the Chinese security personnel resorted to violent force.

“The Chinese security personnel used fire arms, killing one Tibetan on the spot and injuring many more,” the release said citing sources in the region.

Over ten thousand Tibetans from the nearby regions of Zu Toe and Zu Mey (upper and lower Zu) have reportedly arrived at Bharma Shang as the situation continues to remain very tense.

Meanwhile, Vishal Arora at Asia Times writes that China is losing a ‘media war’ over this conflict:

In a letter published in The Guardian, Dai Qingli, an official from the Chinese Embassy in London, suggests that the immolations are part of “a separatist agenda under religious cover”, pointing out that “pro-independence Tibetans outside China were quick to publicize the self-immolations, sometimes within a few minutes of their occurrence”.

However, Sangay cites the example of an exiled monk who attempted self-immolation in Nepal. The monk had planned it for September, but a friend who came to know about it prevented him from burning himself.

He made another attempt in November, but survived. “It shows that self-immolators do it alone … Anyone who comes to know about it will not let it happen. We do not even have the pictures of the burnt bodies. If it was for international support or publicity, then they would do something to get the attention of journalists.”

“Almost 99% of this generation has never met the Dalai Lama. Still there is a strong sense of the Tibetan spirit. All the self-immolators, the eldest one is in his 40s, grew up under the Chinese system, education, politics, history, and [yet] they are dying. No matter what kind of education you provide and no matter what propaganda you subject them to, they are saying, it’s better to die than live under those circumstances.”

These are serious allegations against China, and the international community mostly believes the Tibetans. Due to Beijing’s unwillingness to allow journalists to investigate, its claims naturally sound like defensive rhetoric.

“These actions clearly represent … enormous anger, enormous frustration with regard to the severe restrictions on human rights, including religious freedom, inside China,” said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in January. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also taken note of restrictions on basic freedoms and authorities’ interference in monasteries across the Tibetan plateau.

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“Tibetan Villagers Clash With Police”

Yet more bad news from Tibet, this time from Amdo:

Chinese police have shot and killed a Tibetan man accused of stealing tents from a controversial construction site, triggering clashes between villagers and security forces in China’s northwestern Gansu province, local sources said Tuesday.

The clashes took place on Monday, a day after the shooting in Labrang county resulted in Tibetan protesters overrunning a police station, the sources said.

Additional security forces were called in and used tear gas to contain the protests, with many Tibetans injured and detained, according to the sources.

“On the night of Jan. 8, a group of Chinese police and security officials came to Nanba township in Labrang Achog in Labrang [in Chinese, Xiahe] county in Gansu, and shot Gurgo Tseten,” a local Tibetan said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Tseten had been visiting the family of another man, Gonpo Kyab, who was detained and taken away by police, the source said.

Chinese police suspected the two men of taking two tents that had been pitched at a site where the Chinese authorities are planning to build an airstrip despite protests by local Tibetans who claim the area is sacred, the man said.

“The Chinese authorities were planning to build an airstrip on the side of Amnye Gong Ngo mountain,” revered by Tibetans as a sacred site, the source said.

“Local Tibetans objected and resisted the project … residents of the Achog area also launched a strong protest.”

Following the shooting, Tibetans ransacked the police station in nearby Achog Ngago township, damaging windows and doors, the source said.

“All the local police fled to the county center. Then special forces arrived in the area in 22 vehicles on the morning of Jan. 9.”

After an initial clash in which police fired tear gas, “many Tibetans were taken into custody, and many were injured,” the source said, adding that some police were also injured and that two or three vehicles were burned.

“Now, more armed police have arrived and are surrounding Ngago township,” he said.

Before Gurgo Tseten was shot, area residents were already angered by the death in police custody of a young Tibetan who was detained while traveling by motorbike to Labrang, the source said.

“When there was a scuffle, the police beat him and held him in custody while his injuries went untreated. As a result, he succumbed to his injuries and died.”

For now, the Chinese security forces surrounding the town are only watching and have not made a further assault, he said.

“However, the Tibetans fear that they may be waiting for some order from above to crack down.”

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“China Set to Punish Another Human Rights Activist”

I’m sure this will go over even better than the house arrest of a blind lawyer and his daughter:

First the police crippled Ni Yulan’s legs. Then the authorities took away her license to practice law. Later, while she was serving time in jail, demolition crews tore down the courtyard house that had been in her family for two generations.

Freed from prison in 2010 but unable to walk, she ended up living in a Beijing park with her husband for nearly two months, until unflattering publicity led local officials to move them into a cheap hotel.

Their predicament will most likely take a turn for the worse in the coming weeks, when a court in the capital’s Xicheng district is expected to sentence the couple on charges that include “picking quarrels” and disturbing public order. “I’m afraid the sentence this time will be especially heavy,” their lawyer, Cheng Hai, said after their hearing on Thursday.

The case of Ms. Ni and Mr. Dong highlights the ways officials can leverage the legal system against those they deem to be nuisances. Ms. Ni, 51, who received a law degree from China University of Political Science and Law, drew the attention of the authorities in 2002, when she used her expertise to help neighbors in Xicheng fighting eviction, part of the government’s sweeping effort to remake the capital ahead of the Olympics.

Detained after she tried to photograph demolition crews, she said she was kicked and pummeled over the course of 15 hours, leaving her incontinent and unable to walk. She was released after 75 days but continued her legal work while also seeking redress for the beating. Over the next few years, she was arrested twice more and convicted of “obstructing public business.”

During her three years in prison, she said, she endured frequent indignities: An officer once urinated on her face, she said, and prison officials often took away her crutches, forcing her to crawl from her cell to the prison workshop. One of her tasks included cleaning toilets.

Her daughter, too, said she was subjected to government surveillance. “The police followed me to school and watched me all day so I would experience the fear,” said the daughter, Dong Xuan, now 27.

During their trial last week, Ms. Ni, thin and weak, was propped up on a makeshift bed, an oxygen mask tethered to her face. Outside, a heavy police presence prevented family members, supporters and foreign diplomats from entering the courtroom. Their lawyer, Mr. Cheng, claims the proceedings were illegal because 9 of his 10 witnesses were barred from testifying.

Reached by phone, a spokesman for the Xicheng District People’s Court declined to answer questions about the case.

Cases like this are part of what convinces me that the Communist Party isn’t anywhere near as strong as it looks, in the long term. Does a secure Party need to go to such lengths to attack a women whose crime is lawyering and who needs an oxygen mask to survive?

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More Violence Against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

The Chinese government has been claiming that their police were forced into a shootout by Islamic terrorists in Xinjiang three days ago:

Police officers killed seven people they accused of being kidnappers in a remote mountainous area of Xinjiang on China’s turbulent western frontier, according to state-run news organizations on Friday.

A spokesman for the Xinjiang government told the Xinhua state news agency that a group of “violent terrorists” abducted two people in Pishan County. The area is in the restive Hotan Prefecture, which is dominated by Uighurs, a Turkic people who practice a relatively moderate form of Islam. The Han make up less than 2 percent of the population in Pishan.

Xinhua did not specify the ethnicity of the people who were killed by the police, but Radio Free Asia, which has a Uighur-language service, quoted local residents as saying on Thursday that all of the victims were Uighurs.

Doubts have been raised in recent years over the official versions of events in Xinjiang. In 2008, officials said two Uighur men were responsible for killing 16 paramilitary officers in the city of Kashgar by hitting them with a truck, setting off homemade explosives and attacking them with machetes. But foreign tourists who witnessed the event and took photographs of it said that there were no explosions and that the men wielding the machetes appeared to be wearing uniforms.

As is always the case, locals and exile groups are contesting this story, and it doesn’t sound good for the official narrative being pushed by the Beijing propaganda department:

Radio Free Asia has now reported that the “Terror Gang” was in fact a group of people, men, women and children, from Mukula village in Pishan county. The group, it is reported, had been attempting to flee to a foreign country where they could practice their Muslim religion unhindered. One of the dead had been previously imprisoned for three months for “illegal” religious activities.

RFA claims that two of the dead were women and that “Five of the captives are children aged seven to 17 years of age. One child is an elementary school student in second grade. They are being interrogated by the county.”

According to the RFA report the village chief said authorities had been keeping details of the incident under wraps in order to “maintain stability” in the community. He said the village was under a security clampdown.

It would seem obvious then that a group of Uyghurs, more than likely containing a family group, had attempted to leave China illegally. Their reason for leaving would overwhelmingly appear to be as a result of religious persecution.

Having been stopped by police they have reacted contrary to directions, or the police acted inappropriately towards the women of the group, as alluded to in the RFA report, resulting in what can only be described as a massacre. The fact that the dead policeman died as a result of knife injury would attest to the fact that the Uyghurs were not carrying weapons such as guns.

The initial story that they had “kidnapped” two shepherds is possibly correct to the extent that they required guides to get them to the border. Whether the shepherds helped voluntarily will not be known, but it is more than likely, and their status as “kidnapped” has been used by the Chinese authorities to justify the intervention and consequent, and what would appear, excessive use of lethal force against a group armed with little more than traditional Uyghur daggers.

We’ll see as more details come in- but I’ll just say that I would be extremely surprised if Beijing manages to provide any supporting evidence whatsoever for its claims.

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“Photos of crackdown from Tibet”

Someone has posted a number of pictures taken in Ngaba on the Chinese site Boxun. Judging by how close they were, I assume it must have been a member of the security forces, or someone accompanying them?

Take a few minutes and look. Next time you hear someone imply that Tibetans resent Chinese rule because of the Dalai Lama or the CIA somehow tricking them, remember these pictures.

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“China’s economic rise hasn’t brought moves toward democracy”

In the midst of a broader article, Tom Lasseter has the story of one of the independent candidates whose campaign was destroyed over the last few months:

Lu Weixing decided this year to run as an independent candidate for a local council position in Beijing.

Lost for the right words to describe what came next, he stuck his hand into his pocket and fished out a white and orange Vitamin C tube. He tilted it forward until a single tooth rolled out.

“They beat me and then I lost a tooth,” Lu said recently.

Voting for the largely powerless councils happened Tuesday. Lu’s name was not on the ballot.

His quirky and unsanctioned campaign in west Beijing included wearing a cap with a long queue braid reminiscent of the Qing Dynasty. It was a reminder that although 100 years have passed since the Qing fell, China’s central government is still ruled by non-elected officials.

Lu said that one afternoon in September, a group of plainclothes security officers told him to cut it out. When he refused, Lu said, the men dragged him into a grove of trees and kicked him in the face. Uniformed police were called to the scene, he said, and they broke up the melee. Still, the damage was done.

During lunch the next day, Lu said, he felt his tooth loosening, and when he gave a little tug, it popped out.

Lu said the local election office had refused to give him the form needed to collect signatures to certify him as a candidate. When friends submitted one on his behalf, Lu said, it was ignored.

“By law we’re able to run as candidates,” Lu said, apparently not sure how to finish the sentence.

Another independent in the west of the capital, Han Ying, managed to be accepted as a candidate. But as elections approached she reported being hounded by both police and unidentified men. The day she was scheduled to meet with a McClatchy reporter, Han called to give her regrets.

“When I stepped outside to walk my son to school this morning, a policeman stopped me,” explained Han, who said her name was ultimately omitted from ballots.

Again, these are candidates for small-time local offices which have no real power. Think about what it means that their attempts to run necessitated so much force from Beijing.

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“No mercy”

The Economist has another story about Ngaba and the self-immolations:

Today it is in Sichuan’s highlands that the authorities appear to be struggling most to contain simmering discontent among ethnic Tibetans. Sichuan’s two “autonomous prefectures” with large Tibetan populations are Aba (Ngawa in Tibetan) and Ganzi (Kardze), whose combined area is almost the size of Great Britain. Much of the area was once part of the famously warlike Tibetan region of Kham. In 1991, China’s then Communist Party chief, Jiang Zemin, said that “to keep Tibet stable, it is first necessary to pacify Kham”. That attitude is an ancient one among China’s rulers, and still applies.

Officials have reason to be fearful. For Tibetans, self-immolation is a new form of protest. Such acts are difficult for the authorities to prevent, and images of them can have a powerful psychological effect among sympathisers. Eleven Tibetans have tried to kill themselves this way since March. Six have succeeded, the latest a 35-year-old nun in Ganzi on November 3rd.

The anger and desperation that has prompted Tibetans to set fire to themselves is common across the plateau. In all of China’s Tibetan-inhabited areas, the authorities have rounded up innumerable monks, nuns and laypeople for taking part in the 2008 unrest. Reports of torture are rife. Many monks have been forced to denounce the Dalai Lama, who even in Songpan, where things are relatively calm, is deeply revered by Tibetans. This correspondent was often asked for news of him.

But Aba and Ganzi share an additional layer of resentment. Both prefectures saw the only well-documented cases of police firing on demonstrators in 2008 (20-30 people may have been shot dead in Aba town).

Woeser, a Tibetan blogger in Beijing who closely monitors the region, says the authorities inadvertently exacerbated Sichuan’s instability by expelling hundreds of visiting monks from monasteries around Lhasa after the 2008 unrest. Many of these monks were from Sichuan, and they returned to their monasteries with tales of Lhasa’s upheaval and the recriminations that followed. Others, barred from their original monasteries, became wandering malcontents. In Ganzi, Woeser says, passions have been stoked by the hardline fulminations of the prefecture’s ethnic-Han party chief, Liu Daoping. (Aba has a Han party secretary too, as, invariably, does Tibet itself.)

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