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A Chinese Netizen’s Personal Encounter
of the Riot in Tibet

15 March 2008

The following is a partial translation of an online post:

Friday afternoon, 14 March 2008, at about 2 clock, I received a phone call from a friend working at public security bureau, asking anxiously where I was. I said I just left the Relic Research centre in the Potala Palace. Hearing that, he urged me to look through the windows. I did, and saw a thick plume of smoke in the direction of Jokhang Temple, and soon heard police vehicles and ambulances whizzing past.

When my car approached an intersection near Ramoche Temple and Public Security Bureau, I found the street to the monastery was completely shrouded in a thick cloud. All of a sudden, a police ambulance dashed out of the black haze and speeded along the Sela Road towards the police hospital.

Later I learned from some credible sources that the mobs were all Tibetan young men who got paid to make troubles. At the first they shouted the slogans, then according to what was planned, began to light the vehicles around the Ramoche Temple, and eventually stormed into shops, looting the items on the shelves and burning the buildings.

By the time I came near the Ramoche Temple, the journey became extremely difficult as the road were littered with stones each weighted about one or two kilograms. A taxi was burned down with only a steel frame remaining.

The riot happened suddenly, and without warning, which left the police unprepared. As they didn't even carry concealed weapons for self-defense, they were unable to protect themselves, let along to curb the situation. Consequently, about two dozen police officers were injured and hospitalised.

When I passed the building of Lhasa Public Security Bureau, I noticed the ground was covered by stones, apparently thrown in by the mobs.

My unit is near the intersection of Zangre Road and Najin Road. Soon after arrived home, I detected the black smog rose from somewhere nearby. I went to investigate and observed a dozen ethnic Tibetan youths burning vehicles in front of the Baiyi supermarket. Around, hundreds onlookers stood watching. At 17.56pm, police cars arrived, and the mobs quickly scattered away.

The police did not chase after them, as the road was blocked by two taxies in flames. And then I saw an ethnic Han woman running across the scene, her face badly bleeding.

The gates and windows of this biggest supermarket in Tibet had been entirely damaged by the mobs, and everything inside was completely smashed. None of the nearby shops escaped their fate.

When a taxi drove past me at high speed, the pieces of the broken windows were scattered everywhere. The guy might have worked hard for the whole day, but now as he had to repair his car, he would be left empty-handed when returning home.

During that time I received numerous text messages, most urging me to take an extra caution while moving around outside home. A business friend also asked me how long I thought this situation would last, and if the order couldn't resume quickly, he might quit his business and left Lhasa for good.

I learned from my friend working at the police headquarter that they were instructed not to use force even they were physically attacked, and that caused many inexperienced young officers seriously wounded. I feel sad about that.

In the burning and looting scenes there was a sense of heightened excitement, among the mobs who were enjoying their moment of terror and violence, and among the onlookers, as though they were viewing a blockbuster live, which includes me. It is a sham. I used to be a journalist, and despite I can’t help police to bring the order back, I, however, wish to tell the world what I have witnessed, and expose those vicious and brutal crimes that were carefully planned.

After I finished the typing, I went to the Chinese foreign ministry webiste. When I read the sentence “The things you envisaged will not happen,” I felt the pain in my heart, as less than eight hours after that speech, the most serious riot since 1987 occurred in Lhasa. The spokesman’s reply makes a mockery of the reality.

On the other hand, the words of that foreign journalist are like medicine, taste bitter, but helpful.

(Source: 网友亲历拉萨骚乱)

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