Martial Law-like situation

24, Mar 31’08

The Chairman of the TAR government Mr Qiangba Puncuo maintained that army was not used and the police only used sticks and persuasion to convince the rioters to return home. Also, PTI news agency Mar 16 quoted city mayor Doje Cezhug as saying, “We didn’t enforce martial law there, and the situation in Tibet as a whole is good at present.” He blamed the unrest on a “handful” of monks and lawless persons and noted that Lhasa was now calm.

But the exile Tibetan government said on its website Mar 15 that a martial law like situation prevailed in Lhasa with the authorities announcing on Mar 14 the closing down of schools, shops and businesses and the monasteries being completely sealed off by the PAP. It also cited cutting off of communication lines and restrictions on people’s movement in Lhasa, which it said was being patrolled by the PAP with tanks and armoured vehicles. Besides, door-to-door searches and rounding up of suspects by the PAP were in full swing, terrifying all ordinary Tibetans living in the city.

Besides, Mar 21 cited sources in Tibet as saying that Chinese soldiers had been dressed as monks and made to roam the street of Lhasa for two purposes: to give a false impression of the return of normality in the city and to carry out surveillance and crackdown. It listed names of four military units involved in the deception.

TAR’s party Secretary Zhang Qingli declared on Mar 20 that the situation in Lhasa was under control and that the social order was returning to normal. “Now we should focus on maintaining stability in the whole region.” Besides, China Daily reported Mar 21 that train services too had returned to normal, with more than 2,000 people arriving at the Lhasa station daily and over 1,000 departing from it “in recent days”. AP Mar 21 cited residents in Lhasa as saying that day that police were still patrolling the streets but that people were free to go where they wanted as long as they had identity cards. However, it also quoted others as saying they were too afraid to go out.

Even after the apparently brutal and massive crackdown, sporadic violence appeared to have continued. Times Online (UK) reported Mar 19 that a homemade bomb thrown at a paramilitary police vehicle in an eastern corner of Lhasa on Mar 18 had killed or injured up to four officers. Police were reported to have fired teargas to disperse crowds of curious Tibetan onlookers.


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