The past week has seen a uprising by Tibetans against the Chinese followed by a massive and violent crackdown by the occupying Chinese forces. The Western media are just now starting to give these events serious attention. (Forgive them, they were distracted by a hooker scandal.)
This article in the times covers the start of the uprising in the beginning of the week. The unrest began Monday at Drepung Loseling Monastery, where monks staged a sit down strike to protest Chinese regulations forcing them to take "reeducation" courses and write essays denouncing the Dalai Lama. On Tuesday, Monks at the Sera Monestary in Lhasa and the Ganden Monastery nearby staged separate pro-independences rally and waved the Tibetan flag to commemorate the failed 1959 uprising against the Chinese that forced the Dalai Lama to flee his homeland. The Sera protest was broken up by tear gas.
The initial protests were completely peaceful.
By Friday, however, things had turned violent. Yesterday the Times reported one account of how the escalation occurred. Monks from the Ramoche Temple marched to protest the rough treatment of the monks in the earlier protests. Police publicly beat the Ramoche monks. This sparked rioting and violent reprisals from lay Tibetans. Chinese sources report that the lay Tibetans began attacking Chinese shopkeepers without provocation. However the Chinese sources do not seem to be denying that the police used extreme force on the monks. And it would not be surprising that lay Tibetans, who lack the discipline and training in nonviolence of monks and nuns would respond violently to seeing monks beaten.
Now the fighting has spread to areas which were traditionally a part of tibet, but which are not recognized by the Chinese Communist Party as part of the Tibet Autonomous region, including Qinghai, Gansu, and parts of Sichuan. H.H. the Dalia Lama has refused to issue a call for the protests to end. The Dalai Lama does not advocate complete independence for Tibet, merely more autonomy within the Chinese system.
Chinese President Hu Jintao owes his rise in the CCP to his role in orchestrating the violent crackdown on the nonviolent Tianamen Square protesters in 1989. I spent a portion of last summer listening to people argue for the Confucian thesis (shared by Plato) that the key to a good society is to have virtuous rulers. I remain steadfast in my (very democratic) belief that virtuous rulers are too hard to come by, and that the key to a good society is using the rule of law to restrain the rulers. China routinely confirms that belief.
Ok, I need to enter some grades, but I'm also going to go look for alternative sources for information on the uprising.
Update: Good Tibet coverage at Radio Free Asia
This the the blog of Tibet Uprising, a protest movement based in India which has attempted to march to Lhasa to commemorate the 1959 uprising.
Images of protests on youtube. Some peaceful, some not