Tibetans attacked Chinese, say Lhasa tourists
By Thomas Bell
Last Updated: 2:45am GMT 19/03/2008
Tourists arriving in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, from the closed city of Lhasa have told how they saw angry mobs of Tibetans attacking ethnic Chinese last Friday.
Claude Balsiger, 25, from Switzerland, said he saw the violence develop in Barkhor Square, near the Jokhang Temple.
“The young people were in action and the old people were supporting with screaming. Howling like wolves, that’s how they supported them.
“Anything that looked Chinese was attacked. I saw at least seven to eight Chinese people attacked with stones and fists.”
He saw one old Chinese man rescued from the mob by elderly Tibetan people, and believes the intervention of a Canadian tourist saved another life.
John Kenwood, a 19-year-old Canadian, believes he saw a man die. “They were knocking people off motorcycles,” he said. “One man was hit several times in the head with a large piece of sidewalk.” When his attackers left him he was not moving.
Mr Kenwood also saw boxes of stones being supplied to Tibetan throwers.
“To me it was like it was planned,” he said. Both men said a rumour spread that a group of monks arrested on Monday had been killed by the Chinese, and that this inflamed emotions.
By the end of the day “huge fires were rising above the buildings all over Lhasa and black smoke was everywhere,” said Mr Kenwood. “I never saw any monks take part in the violence.”
Over the weekend tanks and troops poured into the city. Tourists were confined to their hotels, but they heard shooting, explosions and the use of tear gas.
On the streets yesterday sweepers were cleaning up the debris. “Ironically, they were wearing Beijing 2008 hats,” said Mr Kenwood.