14 Mar 2008

Tibetan Protests Turn Violent

Several shops and police cars have been set on fire in the centre of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, after hundreds of people join protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule, official media and witnesses say.

"Shops were set on fire in violence in downtown Lhasa on Friday afternoon," the Xinhua news agency reported.

A Tibetan woman at the scene said monks set police cars on fire after a demonstration near a small temple in Lhasa was stopped by police.

"The monks are still protesting. Police and army cars were burned. There are people crying," she said.

"Hundreds of people, including monks and civilians, are in the protest." Al Jazeera English - Tibetan Protests Turn Violent

An eyewitness told the BBC there was a thick pall of smoke hanging over the city.

Another eyewitness said security forces and monks had clashed on Wednesday and several monks were beaten.

He said about 300 monks had tried to leave the Sera monastery to protest but security forces brandishing clubs stopped them and at least one monk was beaten to the ground.  BBC

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists, urged China not to use violence to quell the protests, which he called "a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance".

"I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people," he said in a statement.

The EU and the White House also issued statements urging China to show restraint. The Guardian