Tibet Unrest Government-in-Exile Demands UN Intervention

The streets of Lhasa were relatively quiet on Saturday after the Chinese authorities imposed a curfew. The government-in-exile says it has reports of 100 people killed during violence on Friday and is calling on the UN to intervene.


Heavily armed police and soldiers were out in force, tanks patrolled the streets and all shops were closed in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Saturday after the Chinese authorities imposed a curfew following Friday's violent protests.

China is reporting that 10 people were killed on Friday, while the Tibetan government-in-exile in India said it had received "unconfirmed reports that about 100 people had been killed."

On Saturday the exiled government, based in Dharamshala in northern India, called on the United Nations to intervene and investigate the "urgent human rights violations."

On Friday Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama expressed "deep concern" over China's crackdown and urged his fellow Tibetans "not to resort to violence."

The unrest in Tibet began last Monday when Buddhist monks began peaceful protests to mark the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the uprising against Chinese rule. On Friday when police tried to stop the monks from protesting in the capital Lhasa, ordinary Tibetans began to hurl stones and set fire to shops and cars.

A spokesman for the Dalai Lama denied Chinese charges that groups allied to the spiritual leader had "organized, premeditated and masterminded" the unrest. Chhime R. Chhhoekyapa told Agence France Presse the accusations were "baseless," adding: "As far as we can see, these protests are spontaneous."

Despite the outbreak of unrest in Tibet, Beijing is insisting plans are going ahead to hold a torch relay for the forthcoming Olympic Games, which is scheduled to go through Tibet and be carried across Mount Everest. Spokesman Sun Weide told reporters: "The hosting of the Beijing Games is the 100-year dream for Chinese people and I think the Chinese people, including our compatriots in Tibet, very much look forward to hosting the Games."

But events in Tibet are already undermining China's plans to present itself in a good light during the games, which kick off in August.

And there are signs that the unrest could spread. On Satuday police fired tear gas to disperse a sympathy march by Buddhist monks in the town of Xiahe in western China.

smd/ap/afp

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