Security tight in Lhasa on riot anniversary
Lhasa was under tight security, residents said, on a muted first anniversary of anti-Chinese unrest in the Tibetan capital in which Beijing says 21 people were killed by rioters.world Updated: Mar 14, 2009 20:06 IST
Lhasa was under tight security on Saturday, residents said, on a muted first anniversary of anti-Chinese unrest in the Tibetan capital in which Beijing says 21 people were killed by rioters.
"There are armed police officers patrolling the streets, 24 hours out of every 24, every day," said an employee of a city centre hotel, speaking by telephone.
"We must carry our identity papers and our residence permits if we want to go out," said the employee, who asked not to be named.
Another hotel employee said that hotels had not received any foreign guests since the end of last year.
In any case, 'most shops and bars must close before 11:00 pm,' he said.
Stephanie Brigden, director of the London-based Free Tibet Association, denounced what she called 'de facto martial law' in Lhasa and its surrounding areas.
According to exiled groups, 203 Tibetans were killed during last year's riots, mostly by Chinese troops.
For the past several weeks China has deployed a heavy security presence in Tibet and neighbouring provinces with large Tibetan populations to head off any unrest ahead of two significant anniversaries this week.
In addition to the March 14 anniversary, March 10 marked the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule which led to Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fleeing the Himalayan region for India.
China's official media largely ignored Saturday's anniversary, with state news agency Xinhua and CCTV reporting on the difficulties and prospects facing businesses in Lhasa.
Xinhua also published an account of a memorial service in Lhasa for five young women shopkeepers -- four Han Chinese and one Tibetan -- who it said died in one of 908 shops torched by rioters last year.