Tibet: nearly 1,000 jailed in Lhasa, Dalai Lama offers to resign

* Above: cellphone video of thousands of monks and laypeople protesting at Labrang monastery Xiahe, Gansu province in China. March 15, 2008.

* Left: The dead bodies of eight protesters were brought into Ngaba Kirti Monastery yesterday, in the Ngaba area of Tibet. The caption on this image from phayul.com indicates that observers are throwing money on the corpses as a customary expression of grief. Students for a Free Tibet posted reports that more than 20 protesters were killed at Ngaba. Here are photos of the dead (warning: graphic). Copies of the same photos are here.

* Here is the first-person account of Spence Palermo, a sound technician and filmmaker from Oregon, who was on location at that monastery working on a TV program for National Geographic last Saturday when the protests erupted. He sent this email to friends from China, where the crew is finishing production: Link

* Nearly 1,000 Tibetans have been detained by Chinese authorities in Lhasa, after two days of patrols by China's Army and police:

Sources in the city said 600 people had been detained on Saturday and another 300 had been picked up on Sunday. They said it was not clear where those rounded up were being detained because the main Drapchi prison in Lhasa is believed to be virtually full.

Those detained could be taken to the old Number One prison in the Sangyip district in the northeast of Lhasa that is not currently believed to be in use. They may be held in the nearby Number Four detention centre and the New Lhasa prison in the same district that has recently been used as a re-education-through-labour centre. They could even be taken to the new Chushur prison some distance outside Lhasa where most political prisoners are believed to be jailed after sentencing.

These prison facilities are as notorious for human rights violations in Tibet as Abu Ghraib is in Iraq.

* The Dalai Lama says he will resign as head of state of the Tibetan Government in Exile if the violence continues:

"If the Tibetans were to choose the path of violence, he would have to resign because he is completely committed to nonviolence," [aide] Tenzin Taklha said. "He would resign as the political leader and head of state, but not as the Dalai Lama. He will always be the Dalai Lama."

* Here's more on the unavailability of YouTube in China right now — it appears to be systematically blocked, along with Google News, because of the explosion of material related to the Tibet uprising.

* Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch asks,

What will Google do to restore access to YouTube and Google News inside China? China is a big market that Google needs to be a player in. Will it voluntarily strip out all videos or news items about Tibet? Or will the Chinese government just figure out how to strip them out itself? There is a precedent here: in China you cannot find a lot of information about the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising on the Web, including the famous image of the lone man standing in front of the line of tanks.

* US president George Bush removed China from a list of top world human rights violators just 3 days before the violence erupted in Tibet. Snip from today's New York Times editorial, "China Terrorizes Tibet":

In its annual human rights report on 190 countries, the State Department conceded that Beijing's overall performance remained poor. But in what looked like a political payoff to a government whose help America desperately needs on difficult problems, the department dropped China from its list of 10 worst violators.

Whatever gain China may have gotten from being elevated above the likes of North Korea, Myanmar, Iran and Sudan was lost by the crackdown on Tibet.

China had a chance to shine for its Olympic coming-out party and is blowing it. Its leaders will continue to have to battle protests and unrest – and endure international reproach – until they ensure more freedom for all their citizens, including greater religious tolerance and freedom for Tibet.

* Many Boing Boing readers in China have written in to report that they can no longer access our website without censorware workarounds, because of the Tibet-related content on Boing Boing. Chris in China explains:

Just letting you know that since boingboing started reporting on Tibet it's been routinely blocked here in China. I don't think it's a very specific block as in "youtube is blocked", but rather that the Great Firewall is finding "Tibet" as a keyword and blocking it then. It's been better today, when I can load most of the page before it switches to "Connection Reset", but what bits I can load are really barebones without youtube (which, as you reported, is blocked) and flickr (which seems to be blocked AGAIN here).

I can access the site through a web proxy ( gladder for firefox comes as a strong recommendation ) however, videos still won't work, and this is exceptionally slow.

One more interesting point, I saw briefly on boing boing where you wrote about Native Chinese antipathy to those "ungrateful" Tibetans. This seems to be the consensus of my students as well. I had them read an article from the NY Times that I had printed that showed the difference in quotes between Chinese authorities ( 8 people dead, no soldiers, no guns) and what Tibetans and reports have confirmed (80 confirmed dead, soldiers, tanks, gunfire throughout the day). My students' response to this was, "well of course they say that. They are foreign. They do not know." (paraphrase). Put it simply– even when confronted with such blatant contradiction, the students still believed their government.

This is nothing unusual for the multitude of students I've talked to about censorship. They honestly believe that governmental censorship protects them from foreign lies and "The Bad Things" (as one class a year ago referred to it. When I asked what "the bad things" were, they really had no answer. Finally one student piped up, "we don't know because our government protects us from it!"). I know this is not a universal attitude here in China, but I think it is an interesting anecdote, and important to keep in mind when contemplating the average Chinese Netizen and her response to blatant censorship.

* There is a flood of reports today about new protests, new arrest sweeps, and new deaths and injuries related to Tibetan independence protests throughout the Tibetan Autonomous Region and elsewhere around the world. Some Tibet-specific blogs and news sites I'm following to keep up with that news: Phayul; Canada Tibet Committee newsroom; SFT, TCHRD; this blog from a tourist in Tibet. Wired's Threat Level blog has a comprehensive roundup of first-person accounts here.

(thanks, Christal Smith, monkey, and others)

Previously on Boing Boing:

  • Tibet: China blocks YouTube, protests spread, bloggers react
  • Tibet: more deaths, injuries in Lhasa as crackdown grows
  • Tibetan protests in Lhasa turn violent as Chinese forces crack down
  • China sends in troops to quell monks' peaceful protests

  • Police attack peacefully protesting monks in Tibet
  • Protest inside Tibet captured on tourists' cameras
  • Hacking the Himalayas: Xeni's stories and trek-blog from Tibet and India
  • Boing Boing tv: Miss Tibet/Eames Elephants
  • Google, China, and genocide: web censorship and Tibet