Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Armed police patrol Tibetan area after protest by monks

AP , BEIJING AND DHARAMSALA, INDIA

Armed police patrolled the streets of a Tibetan community in northwest China yesterday, residents said, following reports that six people were arrested after a crowd of hundreds — including monks — attacked a police station.

All was quiet yesterday in Ragya, a town in Qinghai Province’s Golog prefecture, two days after the violence at the police station.

Three residents who spoke by telephone said security forces were patrolling the area but gave widely varying estimates of troop levels, ranging from 30 to 500.

“The monastery is quiet and there are no police stationed there,” said a man surnamed Huang who lives near the ungated Ragya monastery.

He said 400 to 500 troops began patrolling the city on Saturday.

The monastery was home to a 28-year-old monk named Tashi Sangpo, who jumped into the Yellow River to commit suicide after being interrogated by police for allegedly unfurling a Tibetan flag, an incident that set off the violence at the police station.

The monk left the police station with the excuse that he had to use the bathroom, then jumped into the river, a former resident of the area who now lives in exile in Dharamsala, said on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals against his family living in China.

The monk’s body has not been found.

Police arrested six people accused of involvement in the attack that included several hundred protesters, Xinhua said, and another 89 people turned themselves in. All but two of those in custody were monks, it said. The status of those taken into custody was unclear yesterday.

Xinhua said nearly 100 monks from Ragya Monastery attacked the police station.

In other developments, the Tibetan government-in-exile confirmed yesterday that South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa, blaming “intense pressure” from China. A spokesman said the Dalai Lama was “very disappointed” by the decision.

The Dalai Lama had planned to join other Nobel peace laureates at a conference to discuss ways of using football to fight racism and xenophobia ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Juntao (胡錦濤) has no plans to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy at next week’s G20 summit, a foreign ministry official in Beijing said yesterday, while calling on Paris to fix ties strained by Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last December.

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