Echoes of Tiananmen in Tibet Protest

Martin Croucher
Epoch Times
Friday, March 14, 2008

Violence erupted in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa today in what is believed to be the largest demonstration against Communist Party rule for 20 years.

Armed police used water cannons and tear gas on demonstrator and cars and shops were set alight in protest against the regime's occupation of Tibet.

The protests, in their fifth day and led by monks supporting the area's exiled leader the Dalai Lama, threaten to cast a pall over the Chinese regime's image of a unified nation ahead of the Olympics.

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The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said that it had "received firsthand reports from American citizens in the city who report gunfire and other indications of violence".

The last mass organisation against the regime took place in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989 when tanks rolled over students who had gathered to call for democracy.

Tibetans are hoping to use the Olympics to draw attention to their plight. The region has been under occupation for 50 years and thousands of monks and nuns tortured to death in labour camps.

In recent years Beijing has utilised more soft power in the form of investing in the region, vilifying the Dalai Lama and infiltrating the clergy with Communist Party supporters.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists, urged the regime not to use violence to quell the protests, which he called "a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance".

He said in a statement: "I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people."

Tensions in the Tibetan capital have increased over the past five days. The three biggest monasteries were sealed off by thousands of soldiers and armed police in a crackdown against the protests.

Reports from the capital suggest that Tibetan protestors have set fire to cars and shops.

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