China region ‘under lockdown’ after Tibetan protests
Free Tibet Protests!
By Sebastien Blanc (AFP) – Jan 26, 2012
LUDING, China — A Tibetan-inhabited region of China appeared to be under lockdown Thursday after it was rocked by deadly clashes, as exile groups gave grisly details of how the unrest unfolded.
The west of Sichuan province, which has big populations of ethnic Tibetans, many of whom complain of repression, was earlier this week hit by some of the worst unrest since huge protests against Chinese rule in 2008.
Security forces fired into two separate crowds of protesters in Luhuo and Seda towns on Monday and Tuesday in the remote prefecture of Ganzi, which borders Tibet.
Advocacy groups say at least three were killed in the clashes but maintain the protests were peaceful until police fired into the crowds. China says two died — one in each incident — and acknowledged police shootings only in Seda.
By Thursday, affected areas in Ganzi appeared to be under lockdown. Phone calls would not go through, the Internet was cut off and people’s movements restricted as police poured into the region, locals and advocacy groups said.
Even in the provincial capital of Chengdu — some 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Luhuo — police cars were parked every 50 metres (yards) in the Tibetan quarter. “It’s forbidden to take photos or to interview people,” one officer told AFP reporters.
But the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), which has local and exiled contacts, was still able to glean details from sources of what happened in Seda on Tuesday.
The official Xinhua news agency, citing local authorities, said one “rioter” was killed and another injured and that police had to resort to lethal force after a violent mob attacked them with knives, gasoline bottles and guns.
ICT, however, had a different version of events. It said hundreds of Tibetans had gathered peacefully in the town square and that after some time, armed police fired tear gas and started shooting into the crowd.