Huge Protests in Lithang

Free Tibet Campaign is reporting that hundreds of Tibetans in Lithang (eastern Tibet) have taken part in protests:

Tibetan monks, laypeople and nomads have staged the largest protest (1) to have taken place in Tibet since last Spring, according to reports received by Free Tibet. The protests, which involved hundreds of Tibetans. took place in Lithang county in eastern Tibet yesterday and on Sunday and were prompted by the arrest of a Tibetan who had publicly called for Tibetans not to celebrate the traditional new year holiday of Losar. At least 24 Tibetans have been reported to have been detained as a result of the protests.

The Washington Post is also covering the protests and is now reporting that all of Lithang is on lockdown by Chinese security forces. Lithang, while part of Tibet, is in Sichuan province. That is, it’s part of Tibet that China has defined outside of their definition of Tibet. That said, it’s nearly all Tibetan and as the lockdown and protests show, is an area that is distinctly not part of China.

Tim Johnson of McClatchy News also has a piece today that looks at how Tibetans inside Tibet are currently thinking about last year’s national uprising and the Chinese response.

Scratch only a little bit, and Dorje, a Tibetan nomad, lets loose with a tirade at the people he simply calls “the Chinese,” the majority Han who he says will get no respite from Tibetan frustration this year – or for generations.

“After I die,” the 53-year-old grizzled herder says, “my sons and grandsons will remember. They will hate the government.”

On the cusp of the first anniversary of a mass revolt on the Tibetan Plateau that marked the worst ethnic unrest in China in nearly two decades, many Tibetans still seethe at living under China’s thumb. Some engage in small-scale civil disobedience. Others, including monks, brazenly display photographs of the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader they revere as a God-king but that China maligns as a “beast.” Nearly all gripe about a lack of religious and political freedom.

Clearly the protests in Lithang are an instantiation of the anger that Tibetans still hold for China’s ongoing military occupation of Tibet. It’s good that major Western news outlets like the Washington Post and McClatchy are paying attention to what is happening in Tibet and how Tibetans continue to struggle for freedom.

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