Police fired on hundreds of protesters in a Tibetan area of western China, killing eight people, several overseas activist groups said. State media reported one government official was seriously injured in what it called a “riot.”
Two monks also committed suicide late last month because of government oppression, another Tibetan activist group said yesterday.
In Dharamsala, the Tibetan government-in-exile said over the weekend that the Dalai Lama could attend the Beijing Olympics if China invites him but on the condition that it relaxes its suppression in Tibet.
Reports of the killings indicate that unrest is continuing in China’s Tibetan areas despite a massive security presence in place since violent anti-government demonstrations broke out in the middle of last month in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, and neighboring provinces.
Police fired on Buddhist monks and ordinary citizens who had marched on local government offices in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province near Tibet on Thursday, the London-based Free Tibet Campaign and the International Campaign for Tibet said.
The protesters were demanding the release of two monks who were detained after paramilitary troops searched their monastery and found photographs of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, the groups said.
The US government-funded Radio Free Asia said it had unconfirmed reports that up to 15 people were killed and dozens injured in the violence.
Calls to local police and hospitals in the area were unanswered yesterday or were answered by officials who said they had no information.
Xinhua news agency had no information on deaths or injuries but confirmed that a riot broke out near government offices in Donggu Town in Garze.
An official was “attacked and seriously wounded,” and police were “forced to fire warning shots and put down the violence,” Xinhua said.
Thursday’s incident in Garze was sparked when the government attempted to enforce “patriotic education” at a monastery, activist groups said.
The chief monk had refused to let a government team enter, and the team returned on Thursday with about 3,000 paramilitary troops.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in India, said yesterday that two monks committed suicide last month in Sichuan’s Aba County following government oppression. Aba County has been the scene of large protests involving hundreds of monks and citizens.
One monk, identified as Lobsang Jinpa, from the Aba Kirti Monastery, killed himself on March 27, leaving a signed note saying “I do not want to live under Chinese oppression even for a minute,” the human-rights group said.
The second suicide occurred on March 30 at the Aba Gomang Monastery, when a 75-year-old monk named Legtsok took his life, telling his followers he “can’t beat the oppression anymore,” the group said.
It was impossible to verify the information since Chinese authorities have banned foreign reporters from traveling to the region.
Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Dharamsala that the Dalai Lama could attend the Olympics if China relaxes its suppression in Tibet.”
“China must release all prisoners in Tibet and treat the injured. Otherwise, if the Dalai Lama goes to Beijing to watch the opening of the Beijing Olympics, how would Tibetans feel?” Rinpoche said.
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