China has beefed up security in Tibet’s capital as the region marks the sensitive anniversaries of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule and bloody 2008 riots, residents said on Wednesday.
Tibet has been under heavy security since the anti-China riots two years ago, but police patrols and resulting tension have both recently increased in Lhasa, residents told AFP.
An uprising against Chinese rule of the Buddhist Himalayan region erupted on March 10, 1959, but was crushed by China within weeks, forcing the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, to flee into exile.
China calls the defeat of the uprising the beginning of Tibet’s “democratic reform” away from its “feudal” days, but retains an iron grip in the region.
Protests took place on the uprising’s 2008 anniversary, escalating in subsequent days into violent riots across Tibet and neighbouring regions with significant populations of ethnic Tibetans.
China has said 21 people were killed by “rioters” in 2008, while security forces killed only one “insurgent.”
But the Tibetan government-in-exile says 200 people were killed and 1,000 hurt in the unrest and subsequent crackdown in the region.