Tibetans protest at San Francisco
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of Buddhist monks who held a second day of rare protests near Tibet's capital, U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday.
Security personnel surrounded about 500 monks Tuesday as they marched near a police station in Lhasa, a witness told the radio station's Tibetan service.
"There were probably a couple of thousand armed police ... wearing different uniforms. Police fired tear gas into the crowd," the unidentified witness said.
The demonstrators, on their way to demand the release of other monks detained in protests Monday, shouted "We want an independent Tibet" and "Free our people or we won't go back," other unidentified witnesses said.
The report could not immediately be independently confirmed.
A woman who answered the phone at the public security bureau in Lhasa denied knowledge of the incident. At the local government office, a man who identified himself as Bianba said he was aware of an incident but gave no details.
On Monday, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against China's 57-year rule over Tibet, several hundred Buddhist monks staged two major protests in Lhasa in a bold, public challenge to Beijing's authority.
Monks shouted "Free Tibet" as they marched until police dragged them apart and arrested some, an eyewitness told the advocacy group, Free Tibet Campaign.
RFA also reported that gunshots were heard overnight from the direction of a Lhasa monastery, which had been blocked off by police.
Tibet's regional government head, Champa Phuntsok, said authorities briefly detained some monks and released them after they were questioned and "counseled."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference that "some ignorant monks in Lhasa, abetted by a small handful of people, did some illegal things that can challenge the social stability."
Meanwhile, several hundred Tibetan exiles defied police orders and resumed a march to Tibet from the north Indian town of Dharmsala, where their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama presides over a Tibetan government-in-exile.
The march was to protest the Beijing Olympics. Indian police said it violated an agreement between New Delhi and the government-in-exile.
Neither the exile government nor the Dalai Lama has authorized the march.
Source: Associated Press: Police fire tear gas at Tibetan monks
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Picture by: Associated Press