Tourists tell of Tibetans’ violence
Jeremy Page and agencies | March 19, 2008
KATHMANDU: Western tourists emerging from Tibet have described their shock and fear as they watched a “howling” mob of Tibetans stoning and beating Chinese passers-by in two days of rioting in Lhasa last week.
The accounts came as China said 105 “rioters” involved in protests in the Tibetan capital had surrendered.
Official news agency Xinhua said 105 people gave themselves up to authorities overnight, 23 hours after a deadline set by the Government for those involved in last week’s unrest to surrender.
Chinese authorities said rioters killed 13 “innocent civilians” on Friday, when a week of protests by Tibetans against China’s rule of their homeland erupted into violence in Lhasa.
Authorities have insisted that they did not use any lethal force to quell the protests, however Tibetan exiled leaders have said possibly hundreds of people were killed in the ensuing Chinese crackdown.
Meanwhile, Western tourists told The Times the Tibetan crowd turned on anyone and anything that looked Chinese, knocking over motorcyclists, hitting them with metal rods and setting fire to their motorcycles.
Their testimony illustrated the ferocity of the riots, which have undermined not only China’s claims to have brought peace and prosperity to Tibet but also the Dalai Lama’s longstanding creed of non-violent resistance.
“It’s hard to pick a side in what happened,” said John Kenwood, a 19-year-old backpacker from Canada who flew into Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, yesterday after spending ten days in Lhasa.
“I agree that the Tibetans have their own culture, but I can’t agree with what people did. After a while, it was not about Tibetan freedom any more.”
He said that he was walking along Beijing East Road in the Tibetan quarter in Lhasa when he saw four Chinese military trucks pull up at the intersection with an alley leading to the Ramoche temple.
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