Further reports of protests

Thursday, 20 March 2008

1) Sichuan Province SERTHAR COUNTY

An eyewitness speaking to one of Free Tibet Campaign's contacts in Dharamsala has reported that Serthar County in Sichuan Province is now under the complete control of the Chinese army after two days of protests on 17 and 18 March.

The eyewitness, speaking by phone to Dharamsala, reported that the monastery in Serthar had come under particularly tight control with 30 truckloads of troops surrounding it. At 10 am this morning a warning was broadcast from the commander of troops in Serthar that if people persisted in protesting soldiers would shoot, according to the eyewitness. But the eyewitness reported that by nightfall on 19 March, no shootings had taken place.

The clampdown in Serthar followed two days of protest. The protests were sparked when two truckloads of soldiers arrived at Serthar. The eyewitness reported that the local townspeople, on seeing the trucks, surrounded them. . The protests were led by a monk from Serthar monastery and over the day the number of protesters increased from about 1,000 to 2,000. The protesters chanted "Long Live the Dalai Lama". The army withdrew by nightfall.

On 18 March, according to the eyewitness the army was deployed in Serthar in greater numbers and clashes broke out with local townspeople. The eyewitness reported that soldiers were seen beating the protesters. He reported seeing 50 protesters being taken away on 18 March in a military truck.

The eyewitness also reported that as the troops advanced out of Serthar towards surrounding villages, the local people blew up a bridge situated near Gudu village. This was reported to have happened at around 10pm.

Huonyangg County, Ngawa Prefecture

Our contact in Dharamsala received a phonecall from a Tibetan in Huonyang county in Sichuan to say thast Tibetan students from the Tibetan Middle School had staged a demonstration in Huonyang county at 10 am on March 17. The eyewitness reported seeing 500 students. Clashed with the PSB ensued in which four students were injured: two girls and two boys. One girl was hit by a bullet in the back of the neck. The eyewitness r5eported that the injured were being treated in the County government hiospital.

2) Gansu Province

Machu County

Our contact in Dharamsala was informed online by an eyewitness to a meeting that all Tibetans emplyed by the government in Machu county had been called to an emergency meeting by the Gansu provincial authorities. The Tibetans were warned that if any Tibetan was caught contacting anyone outside Tibet and China, either online or by phone, they would be arrested and punished. The government emplyees were ordered to assist the troops during daytime and at night.

Disobeying the order would result in dismissal from work according to the eyewitness. The eyewitness reported that by nightfall on 19 March several Tibetans had been arrested including Lobsang Namgyal, Dolma and Sangrab.

More photos from Machu