Police attack peacefully protesting monks in Tibet

(Image via Students for a Free Tibet.)

Following up on this previous BB post, thousands of Chinese security personnel today fired tear gas in an effort to scatter more than 600 monks taking part in the second day of rare street protests inside Tibet. Tibetan Buddhist monks from Sera and Drepung monasteries refused to return to their quarters for several hours, according to reports.

I have traveled in this region, and to those monasteries, and have spoken with monks and nuns who participated in similar actions in previous years. What is taking place this week would seem to be the most significant series of demonstrations inside Tibet in nearly 20 years. Snip:

The Tibet demonstrations follow a string of marches around the world to commemorate the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule in the remote, mountainous region that has become a flashpoint for protesters ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

"The police were armed with electric prods. Other uniformed security forces had firearms," the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

"The monks chanted: 'Release our people'," the source said, quoting a witness. The group, from the Sera Monastery, also shouted "We want human rights and freedom", the source said.


More from the UK's Times:

Clearly rattled by the bold display of opposition, Chinese authorities have
ordered the closure of the north face of Mount Everest to expeditions until
after the Olympic torch is carried up to its peak in early May. The expedition
web portal
posted a copy of a notice from the Mountaineering
Association of the Tibet Autonomous Region asking climbers to delay their

The notice, dated March 10, said: "Concern over heavy climbing activities,
crowded climbing routes and increasing environmental pressures will cause
potential safety problems in Qomalangma [Everest] areas. We are not able to
accept your expedition, so please postpone your climbing."

(…)Chinese officials had said previously that the north face of the mountain,
which straddles the border between Tibet and Nepal, would remain open. They
could now be concerned that international activists may try to use the
occasion of the arrival of the Olympic torch to stage some kind of
demonstration on the world's highest mountain. Last April, four protesters
at the Everest base camp on the Tibetan side unfurled a banner reading, "One
World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" – referring to the official games slogan.
The group was deported.


The Dalai Lama issued a related statement earlier this week, calling for a "comprehensive approach to resolve the problem of Tibet."

Pro-Tibetan-independence advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet is also covering the ongoing protests.