At least 203 Tibetans were killed in China's crackdown on protests in the Himalayan region, the Tibetan government-in-exile said Tuesday. The estimate is nearly 10 times higher than the official death toll of 22.
The two figures come from the government-in-exile's own contacts in Tibet and Chinese state media and could not be independently confirmed.
The exile government believes at least 203 Tibetans were killed, more than 1,000 were wounded and more than 5,715 were still in detention, according to spokesman Thubten Samphal. "We have reached these figures after carefully examining the sources. Our research team has tried to confirm the figures through some direct contacts and eye witnesses in Tibet also," he said. "We fear that the actual numbers may be higher as news from the remote areas is almost nonexistent."
Samphal said the numbers were taken from a combination of the government's own sources, Tibetan exile groups and official Chinese media. The government is based in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.
The massive anti-government protests that turned violent in Lhasa on March 14 were the most significant challenge to Chinese rule in the Himalayan region in nearly two decades.
Exact figures from the protests and subsequent crackdown are difficult to confirm as Tibet and the surrounding provinces where protests broke out have been closed to foreigners since the unrest.
The protests, initially led by Buddhist monks, started peacefully on March 10, the anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. They became violent four days later as Tibetans attacked cars and shops runs by Han Chinese, China's majority ethnic group.