Eerie silence imposed on 2008 Tibet uprising anniversary


(, Mar 17, 2009) — China ensured that the first anniversary of the Mar 14 protest in Lhasa, which kicked off what turned out to be a Tibetan uprising, passed off without any incident, or, rather, reports of incidents, by banning foreigners from the Tibetan capital, massive new deployment of troops, cutting off or disrupting mobile and internet services, and ordering the closing down of shops, according to several news reports.

Troops in full battle dress patrolled Lhasa, which was largely silent amid the heavy security, reported the DPA news service Mar 14. It said the semi-official China News Service showed a photograph of two schoolchildren walking past a dozen soldiers in combat gear in the deserted Barkhor market street in the centre of Lhasa.

The report also said the official government website showed four photographs, with two of them containing picture of about 30 Tibetan pilgrims, most of them prostrating themselves, in front of the Potala Palace and the Jokhang. However, the other two photos showed deserted streets outside rows of small shops.

The South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) mar 13 reported that security forces in Lhasa and other Tibetan-populated areas of China had conducted house-to-house searches for “suspicious characters.” It said, “Tensions were high … as armed police continued their door-to-door checks for overseas visitors or journalists.” And it added, “Major monasteries have been sealed and armed police patrol the city day and night.”

The DPA report said paramilitary police sealed off almost all Tibetan areas of China to foreign journalists and tourists since Mar 10 while the government had tightened border security, stepped up a propaganda drive and cut off some text-messaging and other mobile telephone services in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas.

Radio Netherlands online too reported Mar 15 that police patrols were intensified and many shops and bars were forced to close early in Lhasa. Extra security was also deployed in Chinese provinces inhabited by large numbers of Tibetans, it added.


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