More Tibetans protest in China, Dalai Lama concerned

Tibetan independence protests continued in monastery towns in western China on Sunday, as the Dalai Lama told the BBC he had "grave concerns" that more bloodshed could follow after dozens died in Lhasa city. ( dpa )

One resident of Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, said hundreds of Tibetans were continuing protests in the city despite a military crackdown after riots erupted on Friday.

Tibetan protesters took to the streets Saturday night, shouting that they wanted to rid Lhasa of all Chinese people, a Chinese resident told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone.

"They burned buildings and smashed windows and everything else," said the woman, who works at a Lhasa travel agency.

She said she heard rumours that police detained about 1,000 monks on Saturday and that 6,000 others were continuing their protests.

Army reinforcements arrived Saturday from neighbouring Yunnan province, she said.

Hundreds of monks at the Kirti monastery in Ngaba county, Sichuan province, also staged a protest after a prayer session Sunday morning, the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported.

The monks and lay Tibetans raised the Tibetan national flag, which is banned in China and shouted slogans including " Tibet independence", "return of the Dalai Lama" and "freedom for Tibet", the centre quoted witnesses as saying.

Police rushed into the monastery compound and used tear gas against the protesters, it said.

Troop reinforcements had already entered the area after a protest at a nearby monastery on Saturday led to the arrest of at least 10 monks, the centre said.

An estimated 3,000 Tibetan protesters in the town of Xiahe, near Labrang monastery in China's Gansu province, shouted slogans in support of the Dalai Lama Saturday and called for the release of the Panchen Lama, US-based Radio Free Asia reported.

Police used tear gas after monks and lay Tibetans marched along the main street in the town, attacking shops, banks and other buildings, Xiahe residents said.

"They smashed all the glass in the windows," a nurse at the Xiahe Poeple's Hospital told dpa by telephone.

Nobody was admitted to the hospital with injuries following Saturday's protest, the nurse said.

"Today there are police patrolling the streets," she said. "Only a few shops and restaurants are open."

More protests were reported in Lithang and Sershul towns in Sichuan.

Monks also protested at Samye monastery, south of Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous region, while troops with tanks and armoured personnel carriers imposed virtual marital law in Lhasa, Radio Free Asia said.

The Chinese government on Sunday issued a statement from its state-appointed Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Panchen Lama, condemning rioting in Lhasa as "violating the aims of Buddhism."

China's Panchen Lama is rejected by most Tibetans in favour of a rival chosen by the Dalai Lama who has reportedly been held under house arrest in China since 1995, when he was 6 years old.

The Tibetan government in exile, based in the Indian city of Dharamsala, on Sunday said it had confirmed at least 80 deaths in Lhasa.

State media said at least 10 people died in fires in Lhasa on Friday and at least 12 police were injured, some of them seriously.

The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's highest leader, fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against the occupation of Tibet by Chinese troops since 1951.

The current protests began on Monday to mark the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising.

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