Tibetans storm town in northwest

China giving media a tough time

Beijing, March 19:

Over 1,000 Tibetans, some on horseback, charged into a remote Chinese town, attacking a government building and hoisting their national flag, Canadian TV reported.

CTV carried the footage of the mounted Tibetans, cheering wildly as they galloped into the unnamed town in Gansu province in China’s northwest, demanding, the report said, an independent Tibet. One of the Tibetan horsemen seen charging through the town in a cloud of dust kicked up by the horses’ hooves was carrying a large Tibetan flag.

Inside the town, a crowd of Tibetans attacked a government building but was repelled by about 100 heavily armed soldiers holed up inside using tear gas, CTV said. The footage featured loud blasts, apparently the noise of tear gas canisters either being fired or exploding.

It showed a large number of Tibetan men and women fleeing in disarray, some covering their mouths because of the tear gas.

One man bleeding heavily from an injury to his head told CTV’s reporter he had been beaten. CTV also showed footage of a group of people pulling down the Chinese national flag at the town’s school, hoisting the old Tibetan flag instead.

A group of people, led by a robed monk, was seen chanting, calling for “freedom from Chinese rule and for an end to years of what they say is brutal oppression,” the report said. The CTV reporter said scenes like these were repeated throughout China.

Meanwhile, reports said today that Chinese police have threatened or blocked foreign journalists from reporting on unrest in Tibet at least 30 times since deadly riots erupted there last week. In one of the latest incidents, an AFP reporter was ordered off a bus in southwest China. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said journalists had experienced interference in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu and Xining, as well as in Lhasa.

In several other locations, police barred reporters from carrying out their work and escorted them out of areas where forces were reportedly quelling unrest. The exiled government of the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala has said hundreds of Tibetan protesters were killed in the crackdown on unrest.