January 23, 2012

Reports: Chinese Police Open Fire on Tibetan Protesters

Witnesses and a London-based exile group say police in southwestern China opened fire on several thousand Tibetan demonstrators Monday, killing at least one person and wounding many others.
The rights group Free Tibet, which campaigns for Tibetan autonomy, quotes witnesses as saying the confrontation took place in western Sichuan province, at an intersection in a county called Luhuo by China and Draggo by Tibetans.
An exiled monk who spoke Monday with witnesses tells VOA's Tibetan service at least 32 people were wounded in the faceoff with security forces. Many are reported in critical condition. He said the wounded were being sheltered in a nearby monastery and that the confrontation was ongoing at the point he lost contact with witnesses.
There has been no official comment on the confrontation from Chinese authorities.
The heavily Tibetan region has been hit by ongoing protests and a series of self-immolations by Tibetan Buddhists demanding an end to widely-perceived religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities.
The monks and their followers are also demanding the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
At least 16 Tibetans, including monks, former monks and nuns, have died in self-immolation protests since March 2011. Thousands of monks were subsequently arrested by security forces and taken to unknown locations.
The Tibetans demonstrating Monday were said to be protesting the earlier arrests of some activists distributing pamphlets calling for Tibetan freedom from Chinese rule. The pamphlets also warned that more Tibetans were ready to set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese crackdown.
Free Tibet says many Tibetans in the region also boycotted Chinese New Year's celebrations currently under way in much of East Asia, to protest Chinese policy toward Tibet.

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