Hope Tibet Will Have a Brighter Future

Chinese Dismayed by Tales of Tibet Violence

Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120638214966859837-ZxbZXP0r40ZsH_raRzdxl47q7SA_20080423.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top
By GORDON FAIRCLOUGH
March 25, 2008; Page A10

SHANGHAI — Peng Jianwei moved from his hometown in central China to Tibet as a teenager seven years ago, hoping to strike it rich on the country’s Western frontier. Now, his dreams are in ashes. His girlfriend was killed, her parents badly injured and the shop where he worked burned to the ground during riots in Lhasa 10 days ago.

In the early afternoon of March 14, the day the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region erupted in violence, a crowd of Tibetans broke into the clothing store owned by Mr. Peng’s girlfriend’s family, doused stacks of shirts and jackets with gasoline and set the piles on fire, says Mr. Peng. The details of his story couldn’t be independently corroborated.

[Liu Guobing]
Liu Guobing says Tibetan activists burned his clothing store.

Mr. Peng’s girlfriend, Liu Juan, and her parents, Liu Guobing and Wang Xinping, were hiding upstairs. As the fire spread, Mr. Liu and Ms. Wang jumped from a second-story window. Ms. Liu, who was 20 years old and the mother of their 9-month-old son, apparently was overcome by the smoke. Her body was found inside the burned-out shop the next day, says Mr. Peng, who wasn’t in Lhasa at the time of the attack.

Mr. Peng spoke in a telephone interview Monday from Mr. Liu’s bedside in the First People’s Hospital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in Lhasa. Mr. Peng, 24 years old, says he related events as described to him by Mr. Liu. Mr. Liu, who is being treated for spinal injuries, was unable to speak on the phone.

Cases such as the Liu family’s are fueling anger against Tibetans among the Han Chinese, the country’s predominant ethnic group. Han are also voicing frustration with foreign media, which they feel are ignoring their suffering and instead focusing on Tibetans’ grievances with the Chinese government.

For most of China’s Han majority, the anti-Han violence is the central story of the past 10 days of unrest in China.

China’s government has been highlighting the ethnic violence, in part to justify its use of force to restore order. Demonstrations began in Lhasa on March 10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule. After marchers were arrested, more protests ensued, turning violent on March 14.

Witnesses said Tibetans — many of whom are angry with government restrictions on civil rights and religious freedoms and feel economically disadvantaged — set fire to large numbers of Han-owned businesses as well as a mosque. Chinese authorities have denied journalists access to the restive regions, and almost every day there are conflicting accounts of deaths and injuries by the Chinese government and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Tales of the suffering of Han Chinese and Muslims at the hands of Tibetans have become a staple of China’s government-controlled press. First-hand accounts of their stories have been relatively rare in Western news reports, in part because of the difficulty of reaching people by phone in Lhasa.

Many of the stories of Han Chinese targeted in the violence echo with the disillusionment of people who believe that what they see as their pioneering spirit and desire to help develop China’s West have been betrayed.

Fan Yunhua, 35, left his hometown in Sichuan province and moved to Tibet last November. He opened a small store selling cigarettes, alcohol and drinks using nearly $30,000 he had scraped together from friends and relatives. The shop was on East Beijing Road, not far from Jokhang Temple at the center of Lhasa’s old quarter, and served tourists and local Tibetans.

“Folks at home all said it’s easy to do business in Tibet,” says Mr. Fan.

On March 14, Mr. Fan and his wife locked themselves inside their shop as crowds gathered on the streets around them. At around noon, a group of Tibetans broke the door open, Mr. Fan says. Some began knocking bottles from the shelves. Mr. Fan says he and his wife were dragged outside. The details of his story couldn’t be independently corroborated.

Seven or eight people began to beat his wife, and as he tried to make his way to help her, he was hit in the head with “a cellphone-sized rock,” he says. A Tibetan woman rescued his wife and dragged her to shelter by a fire truck. His wife and some other Han shopkeepers hid for two days before being escorted from the neighborhood by paramilitary police, Mr. Fan says.

Mr. Fan says he fled and made his way to a hospital where the wound in his scalp was closed with 20 stitches. The couple is now staying in a government-run shelter for victims of the violence. “I still want to do business here. I still like the city. But it depends on whether the government will be able to guarantee our safety,” he says.

China’s government is acting to reassure the Han population, deploying large numbers of police in Lhasa and elsewhere. Heavily armed police even patrolled the southwestern city of Chengdu over the weekend. The authorities also are highlighting their efforts to bring rioters to justice.

At a news conference in Beijing on Monday, the Public Security Ministry said it had detained five Tibetan men and women in their early twenties on Sunday and Monday. The authorities said the five had confessed to two separate crimes of setting fire to a boutique and a car-repair shop in Lhasa, resulting in the deaths of at least seven people — Han Chinese and Tibetans — including an 8-month-old boy.

When Mr. Liu hit the ground after jumping from his burning store, he couldn’t move, and was slapped in the face by a Tibetan man, Mr. Peng says. His girlfriend’s mother broke an arm in the fall. The two were pulled from the scene by other Han Chinese civilians and policemen and taken to a hospital, Mr. Peng says.

Mr. Peng says he and the Lius could understand some of the Tibetan language but couldn’t speak it and had “very good relations” with their Tibetan customers. But, he says, he had witnessed previous altercations between Tibetans and Hans.

Mr. Peng says he believes the riots were masterminded by the Dalai Lama and were aimed at disrupting the Beijing Olympics in August — an assertion repeatedly made by the Beijing government and denied by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, who is in exile in India. Since the unrest started, the Dalai Lama has said violence isn’t the way to advance the Tibetan cause.

Now, Mr. Peng says, he hopes the government will offer compensation for his and the Lius’ losses. Mr. Peng says he and Mr. Liu are still too shaken to discuss their plans for the future. “This is a sad place. We don’t want to stay here. But we may have no choice,” Mr. Peng says. “We don’t know if we can start it over.” The main concern now, he says: how to care for his son, who is now staying with relatives in his hometown in Hunan.

–Jason Leow in Beijing contributed to this article.

 

 

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March 25, 2008 Posted by | Articles | , , , , | Leave a comment

Five young girls burn to death in Lhasa riot

Violence in Lhasa has resulted in a heavy toll in lives and property. Official statistics indicate 13 civilians were burned or stabbed to death. Among them are five girls who worked for a clothing store.

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Survivor Zhuoma(who is a Tibetan) said, “We heard loud noises nearby. The rioters crashed into other stores. We cried and flinched.”

This clothing store in Lhasa was targeted by rioters last Friday. Zhuoma is the only survivor. She says she, along with her friends, had no place to hide, and stayed inside the store when the incident took place.

Survivor Zhuoma said, “We heard loud noises nearby. The rioters crashed into other stores. We cried and flinched.”

Rioters broke in and entered the store. After several minutes, it returned to calm. Zhuoma thought the rioters had left, so she called on her friends to escape.

Survivor Zhuoma said, “I saw flames and smoke, then I shouted hurry up, the store’s on fire.”

Zhuoma ran out and hid in the yard of a nearby hostel. But then she realized what had happened to her friends. Zhuoma is left shocked that she is the only survivor. Days after the violence, Zhuoma still can’t accept that her friends are no longer here.

Survivor Zhuoma said, “I never thought about that. We were happy together that morning, but it suddenly changed hours later. I can’t believe it, I can’t accept the truth that they have left me. I want to ask the rioters why did they do it? I really can’t understand why the rioters killed innocent civilians,why they killed our sisters. We, as employees, don’t have much money. If they want money, why do they rob us of our lives?”

18-year-old Chen Jia was the youngest among the five victims. Beside the debris, her father can’t help himself.

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Beside the debris, Chen Jia’s father can’t help himself.

Chen Jia’s father said, “My daughter was so feminine, we all loved her.”

In an earlier message sent to her loved ones, she said: “Dad, it’s so violent outside, we can just stay at the store. Don’t worry about me, and tell mother and sister to stay at home and take care.”

Official statistics show that so far 156 rioters have surrendered. Local police say they are confident they’ll arrest those behind the riots, and will severely punish them.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Articles | , , | 1 Comment

Photos reveal facts of Tibet riot

Heavy smoke is seen in this photo taken on March 14, 2008 during the unrest in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Rioters throw stones to vehicles and stores during the unrest in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, on March 14, 2008

Wang Qian, a clerk of China Mobile in Tibet who was wounded in the riot, receives medical treatment at a hospital in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, March 16, 2008.

Photo taken on March 16, 2008 shows storekeeper Ma Menai and his store which was damaged during the March 14 unrest in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Officials of local government and institutions clear up the burnt articles on a street in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, March 16, 2008.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Pictures | , , , | 1 Comment

[Video]The violence in Tibet

In this video, you see that the supporters of Dalai Lama threw stones over a innocent resident of Lhasa, and eventually killed him, which is considered as peaceful demonstration by Dalai Lama and so-called ‘Tibet Government’ in exile.

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Videos | , , , | 2 Comments

Police, officials hurt in Sichuan riots caused by Dalai Lama

Huge damage was done to shops and government offices during Sunday’s riots in the Tibetan-inhabited Aba county of Sichuan province, the county government said Wednesday.

Many police officers and government officials were injured during the unrest, it said.

The riots began on Sunday afternoon when a group attacked the county government building, police stations, hospitals, schools, shops and markets. The protestors shouted slogans such as “Tibet Independence”, carried rocks and homemade petrol bombs, and waved the flag of the “Tibetan-government-in-exile”.

They set fire to houses and shops, torched a dozen vehicles, and beat civilians, police and officials, the government said.

Meanwhile, in Gansu province, rioters attacked government offices and schools, and burnt down shops, an official with the provincial government said yesterday.

The unrest started on Saturday in about five counties of the Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture, in southern Gansu, Mao Shengwu, head of the prefecture, said.

“Judging from all the signs, the destruction was organized and fanned by separatists inside China and abroad to undermine social order,” he said.

“But social order in the Gannan area is returning to normal,” he said.

In Lhasa, where riots started on Friday, about 325 people have been injured, and the cost of the damage has risen to more than 200 million yuan ($28 million), according to the latest figures from the Tibetan regional government.

Thirteen innocent civilians were burned or stabbed to death, according to earlier reports.

Sources with the government said that by 10 pm yesterday, 170 people had turned themselves in to police for their role in the riot.

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment