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Lhasa Covid lockdown protesters were mostly languishing Chinese migrant workers

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(TibetanReview.net, Oct28’22) – Protests against a seemingly endless Covid lockdown imposed from early August and the severity of the conditions under it which began on Oct 26 in Tibet’s capital Lhasa had spread to at least four areas of the city the next day, said the Tibetan Service of rfa.org, the website of Radio Free Asia, Oct 28.

While most of the protesters were stated to be ethnic Chinese migrant workers demanding permits to return home, Tibetans were also stated to be among the crowd.

Multiple videos on social media show hundreds demonstrating and clashing with police. They are said to be mostly ethnic Han Chinese migrant workers, reported the bbc.com Oct 28.

The report noted that one video showed hundreds of people gathered on the streets, with officials blocking them at one end. It added that a message calling for calm could be heard on a loudspeaker, with an official asking for people to “please be understanding and to go back”.

“[They] have been locked up for too long. And a lot of people in this community are people who have just come to work and earn money. If they could get that in mainland China, they wouldn’t have come here,” a man commenting on the scene was stated to be heard saying in Mandarin.

Rfa.org earlier reported Oct 27 that the protests were being held on Oct 26 on the streets of what appeared to be Chengguan (Municipal) district’s Chakrong area, in eastern Lhasa, as well as the Payi area of the city.

By next day, protests had spread to include the districts of Lhalu and Kuang Ye, with newly obtained video footage showing crowds growing more restless, said the rfa.org report Oct 28. It said that in one such video, protesters appeared to engage in a yelling and shoving match with authorities, while in another, a group of people appeared to push a large iron gate off its hinges.

“Han people in Lhasa protested against the epidemic control policy. Tibetans are also involved,” the report quoted Sakar Tashi, a Belgium-based China and Tibet watcher, as saying in a post to Twitter. “Most who led & participated were Han – if it were Tibetans, it would have been bloodily suppressed long ago.”

The report cited residents as saying the protesters dispersed after authorities agreed to process applications for Chinese migrant workers to return to their homes outside of the region.

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