Fresh Protests Reported, School Children Turn Latest Victims

By Kalsang Rinchen, Phayul, March 17, 2008

Lhasa, Tibet -- As the protests in Tibet's capital city Lhasa spread like wild fire monks from Thangkor Soktsang Monastery, Zoegey County, Ngaba Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, are demonstrating in front of Chinese government office 8kms from the monastery. At the time of this report going online slogans of free Tibet and Dalai Lama's long life could be heard in the background as a protester tries to reach the outside world through his phone.

The demonstration was started by a group of around 100 monks from Thangkor Soktsang monastery early this morning and was immediately joined by around 400 lay people. The demonstrators called for the Dalai Lama's return, release of the real Panchen Lama Gedun Choe-kyi Nyima and Tibet's freedom. The angry protesters burned down Chinese flag and shouted slogans like "long live Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso(14th Dalai Lama's name)" and "Tibet is independent".

Initially, there were two military trucks full of police trying to control the crowd of protesters. As more and more Tibetans joined the protests the authorities immediately arranged for reinforcements of ten more trucks boarded by Chinese security forces. The protester told us that several people have fainted during the protests. However, no deaths have been thus far reported.

In a separate incident, around 40 Tibetan middle school children were beaten before facing arrest, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

The students, a TCHRD press release said, called for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet.

The children belonged to the Marthang Nationality Middle School in Marthang County (Ch: Hongyuan xian), Ngaba (Ch: Aba) Prefecture, "Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture" ("TAP"), Sichuan Province. Quoting witnesses, the TCHRD press release said the People's Armed Police (PAP) and Marthang County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials immediately crushed the students as they walked out of the school premises calling for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet. The children were severely beaten and manhandled before being dragged into the waiting police vehicles.

Around 700 students of the Marthang Nationality Middle School are staging protest outside Marthang County PSB office in a solemn gesture of solidarity with the arrested children. The identities of those school children and their condition could not be ascertained at the moment as the information coming out of Tibet is scant.