In the back room of a Tibetan teahouse, three robed monks spoke in whispers.
One monk said his home in Luhuo County had been littered with fliers calling on Tibetans to protest. A second monk said soldiers had surrounded his monastery in Aba County. The third dialed home. After folding shut his cellphone, he said the police had killed one Tibetan protester and injured nine others in Serta County.
“Tibetans are dying for no reason,” said the Luhuo monk, as the whine of a police siren drifted through an open window. “But this is happening in remote places, and nobody knows.”
From this city of 10 million people in the middle of China, all roads leading west have been closed — except to convoys carrying soldiers and riot police officers to subdue Tibetan antigovernment protests. Chengdu has always been a gateway to the remote Tibetan plateau, but now it feels like a border outpost, tense and anxious, at the eastern edge of what several Tibetans here described as a war.
If it is a war, it is one the outside world cannot see. Police roadblocks have closed off a mountainous region about the size of France, spanning parts of the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai. Foreign journalists trying to investigate reports of bloodshed are turned away or detained. Even in big cities like Chengdu, Tibetans say they are wary of police retaliation. They pass along secondhand accounts of clashes mostly on condition that their names will not appear in print. [complete article]
Are the Tibetans doomed to go the way of the American Indians? Will they be reduced to being little more than a tourist attraction, peddling cheap mementos of what was once a great culture? In Tibet itself, that sad fate is looking more and more likely. And the Olympic year is already soured by the way the Chinese government is trying to suppress resistance to just that fate. [complete article]