Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tibet & Chengdu

Tibetan Neighborhood In Southwest China City Near Lockdown

CHENGDU, China (AFP)--Police on Monday cordoned off the main Tibetan neighborhood in southwest China's Chengdu city, amid citizen reports of a disturbance.

The main avenue and side streets were shut to traffic, while several buses of riot police were parked along the road, an AFP reporter said. The street remained open to pedestrians and cyclists.

Officers, some with sub-machine guns, patrolled the area on foot or cruised in cars and motorcycles, checking anyone trying to drive out of the neighborhood.

Store owners along the avenue near Chengdu's Wuhouci, a Chinese temple, said a disturbance had occurred on Sunday night, but none could provide an eyewitness testimony.

"There was a little revolt last night. The Tibetans turned over an ATM machine and a car," a security guard told AFP, unable to provide further details.

"This is all related to the riots in Tibet because this is a predominantly Tibetan neighborhood," he said.

He was referring to deadly protests that broke out last week in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region, prompting a massive security crackdown there.

China said Monday Tibetan rioters killed 13 people in the Lhasa protests, while insisting it didn't use deadly force in response.

But The India-based Tibetan parliament-in-exile said hundreds of Tibetans had died in the unrest in Lhasa and elsewhere.

A store owner of a mobile phone shop in Chengdu also said there had been a " disturbance on Sunday, but it was over now." She had no further details.

Many locals denied any knowledge of why hundreds of police had been deployed to the primarily Tibetan neighborhood, which occupies several square blocks.

Another resident said the police presence had been much heavier early Monday morning.

A patrolman refused to answer questions, only saying he wasn't sure what had happened. An official at Chengdu police reached by telephone declined to comment.

I usually don't see any police presence in Chengdu when I visit. I asked my friend over there and she hasn't seen anything in the news about the protest/riot in Lhasa. Of course, she doesn't know anything about the Tiananmen Square Massacre either.

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