Friday, March 28

Evidence emerges that authorities staged Lhasa riots: A second look at the riots in Lhasa, Tibet: Part 5

March 31 Update
Here are my responses to criticism of Part 5 and Part 6 of this series of posts.

> It is undeniable that Epoch Times picked up on the SARS outbreak story "very early," given the length of time that Beijing denied the existence of the story, which doesn't mean I'm saying that ET did original reporting on the story very early on.

> What was done or not done to a photograph/film footage (e.g., cropping, photoshopping) of the man with the knife/sword is not the key point. What's key is the eyewitness account relating to the footage. The eyewitness, a Thai Chinese woman, claims that she recognized the man as a Chinese policeman working for the police in Tibet, and that she saw him removing Tibetan clothes when he arrived at the Lhasa police station. (See the report in Part 6.)

> The white scarf issue I raised in my Rent-a-mob post (Part 5) is admittedly tenuous but suggestive in light of anecdotes that non-Tibetan or non-Lhasa Tibetan accents/dialects were heard among the March 14 rioters. The key point is that if there were indeed outsiders used to stage attacks on Han property, then it seems logical that there would need to be some method of clearly identifying Han shops/residences for the outsiders. The white scarf might have been such a method, although of course there could have been others.

> In discussing the issue of the white scarfs I made specific reference to the Bharkor area, not to "Lhasa." While Lhasa can be termed a big enough place where Lhasa Tibetans might not be expected to recognize every Tibetan shop, the Bharkor area is not big. And it is there that the hanging of white scarfs to identify Tibetan shops is worth noting, as I pointed out in the earlier post.

> Re the argument that China authorities wouldn't start a riot on the theory that it could get out of hand: eyewitness accounts indicate a large and capable police/ military presence, which for the most part stood down until the riots fizzled out on March 17. In other words, if the March 14 riots were started by the authorities, they obviously felt so much in control of the situation that they didn't need to act.

The April 1 edition of an Australian newspaper passes along observations from a Chinese blogger that are worth considering in the context of studying the Lhasa riots:
[...] Chinese blogger Lian Yue, who campaigned to stop a massive chemical factory being built in downtown Xiamen, a port city in Fujian province, puts the other extreme position in his now removed blog (translated courtesy of China Digital Times - a website banned in China):

1. If there is a power that wants to block information, then we should assume this power is bad.

2. If this power actually blocked the information, then this power should be assumed to be worse.

3. If the power which blocked information now publishes only one-sided information, then we should assume this information is false.

4. For all untrue information, the power which blocks information should be held most responsible.

5. The power which blocks information has no credibility to judge related information that flows around.

6. Information blocking is the only reason for making the divide deeper and the situation worse, since people in different positions are all talking from their own perspectives, and cannot be verified.

7. Ultra-nationalism is an emotion, not reason; therefore censorship is a bed for such emotion, fostering extreme-Tibetan, extreme-Han, Japan hatred, Taiwan hatred and other extreme emotions.

8. Mainland China is a place full of such extreme emotions. This extreme emotion supports the power, and likely prevents reform of the power.

9. Only sufficient information and sufficient expression can dissolve such extreme emotion. Trying to control so-called "dangerous speech" is the biggest danger.

10. Therefore, allowing the media to freely enter Tibet to report is a critical way to solve this problem.
While we're on the subject of SARS news reporting and censorship, this 2003 report by Erping Zhang titled SARS: Unmasking Censorship in China is very instructive and also appropriate to Lian Yue's remarks.
End of Update
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I will not be tedious and intone, "I told you so," -- well, okay, I'll be tedious. And I am smug enough to predict that the evidence compiled by Sound of Hope reporters is just the beginning of the lid blowing off the Lhasa riots.

Before we proceed, nobody needs to warn me about considering the source. I have done my share of ragging on Epoch Times at this blog -- and most recently the other day.

Yes, you need to take with a grain of salt hit pieces by ex-CCP officials. But let us not forget that ET picked up on the SARS outbreak story very early, and stayed with it while Beijing was hotly denying that an epidemic existed.

What follows is simply great reporting by Sound of Hope. Visit the article for photographs presented in evidence and links; I have capitalized and bolded words in the article where there is a link.
Chinese Regime Implicated in Staging Violence in Lhasa—UPDATED

Witness identifies policeman who played part of 'rioter'

By Qin Yue and Qi Yue
Sound of Hope
Mar 28, 2008

Evidence is accumulating that the Chinese regime orchestrated violence in Lhasa in order to discredit the peaceful protests of Buddhist monks. According to the Dalai Lama's Chinese translator, Ngawang Nyendra, a witness reported that a Chinese policeman in Lhasa disguised himself as a Tibetan and joined the protesters holding a knife in his hand. This witness also recognized the man from BBC NEWS footage and news photos provided by China.

A Chinese woman from Thailand (who prefers that her name not be used) was studying in Lhasa when the protests broke out in March. As one of her friends is a policeman, she visited him at the local police station quite often and got to know other policemen there.

After the protests on March 14, she and other foreigners were sent to the police station where she saw a man with a knife in his hand walking in with some arrested Tibetans. The man later took off the Tibetan-style clothes and put on a police uniform. This woman was sent out of Lhasa with other foreigners the next day. When she arrived in India via Nepal, she recognized the policeman she had seen in Tibetan garb from BBC TV news and PHOTOS that the Chinese embassy had provided to the media.

Ngawang Nyendra said the witness was shocked when she saw the policeman in the BBC broadcast. She realized then that the man had disguised himself as a Tibetan in order to incite people to riot. The witness contacted a Tibetan organization in India and told them what she had seen. At a rally on March 17, the organization publicized a news photo originally provided by the Chinese Embassy in India in which the policeman appeared as a Tibetan rioter.

On Xinhua and other Chinese-language Web sites friendly to the regime, after the rally at which the witness spoke, the policeman in disguise had disappeared from photos taken at the same scene in which he had previously been visible. Recently, the original man-with-the-knife photo has returned to these Web sites.

Ngawang Nyendra said, "This photo with this man in it was sent by the Chinese embassy to BBC and Radio Free Asia. The other photo was sent out later. They are exactly the same except the man has disappeared from the second photo. "From the TV news footage, you can see this man attempting to stab other people with a knife. But in later shots you can't find this person any more. They were acting. After people raised questions about these shots, this footage never appeared on TV again."

Other Evidence

The main claim of the dramatic story told last week by the Dalai Lama's translator -- that the Chinese regime incited the riots in Lhasa -- has lately found corroboration from other sources. There is first of all the Chinese regime's track record of staging this kind of deception. This is not the first time that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sent policemen to act as rioters in civilian protests in Tibet to stir up violence and frame the protesters.

In his "Events in Lhasa March 2-10, 1989", the Chinese journalist Tang Daxian revealed how the CCP orchestrated violence as part of a plan to suppress the 1989 protests in Tibet.

According to the article, "On the dawn of March 5, the Armed Police in Tibet received the action order from the Chief Commander of Armed Police headquarter, Mr. Li Lianxiu.…The Special Squad should immediately assign 300 members to be disguised as ordinary citizens and Tibetan monks, entering the Eight-Corner Street and other riot spots in Lhasa, to support plain-clothes police to complete the task.

"Burn the Scripture Pagoda at the northeast of Dazhao Temple. Smash the rice store in the business district, incite citizens to rob rice and food, attack the Tibet-Gansu Trading Company. Encourage people to rob store products, but, only at the permitted locations."

According to the commentator Mr. Chen Pokong, "In this year's protest, the riot scene was quite similar to that of 1989. A group of young men in their twenties acted in a well organized way. They first shouted slogans, then burnt some VEHICLES near the Ramoche Monastery, and then broke into nearby stores and robbed them, and finally burnt scores of the stores.

"The actions seemed well planned and coordinated, and were conducted with skill. At the crossroads near the Ramoche Monastery, someone prepared in advance many stones of a similar size, each weighing a couple of kilograms. These stones magically escaped the attention of numerous policemen and plainclothes agents who flooded the city." Mr. Chen's account of what happened this year is corroborated by the British high-tech spy agency GCHQ, whose satellites observed Chinese police incite the riots in Lhasa, according to a report in the G2 Bulletin.

These accounts also HELP make sense of puzzling aspects of a report in the New York Times on the scene on the streets of Lhasa on March 14. According to the NY Times, "Foreigners and Lhasa residents who witnessed the violence were stunned by what they saw, and by what they did not see: the police. Riot police officers fled after an initial skirmish and then were often nowhere to be found."

"One monk reached by telephone said other monks noticed that several officers were more interested in shooting video of the violence than stopping it. 'They were just watching,' the monk said. 'They tried to make some videos and use their cameras to take some photos,'" according to the NY Times. The publication of the photo of the man with the knife by Xinhua and its distribution by the Chinese Embassy, as reported by the Dalai Lama's translator, would be consistent with this monk's observation.

Meanwhile, the Tibetans continue to assert that the Chinese regime has been hoodwinking the world about what happened during the protests in Lhasa. 30 young monks broke into a press briefing behind held on Thursday by the Chinese regime in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

According to USA Today reporter Callum MacLeod (as reported by Reuters), the young monks shouted, "Don't believe them. They are tricking you. They are telling lies."

With reporting by Stephen Gregory and Hao Feng
For background to this post see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of A second look at the Lhasa, Tibet riots.

Also, thanks to Jeremiah Jenne, blogging at The China Beat, for sending me the link to a Christian Science Monitor eyewitness report and for answering my query:
James Miles was the only accredited [Western] journalist [in Lhasa on March 14] and that's an important distinction, but a freelance journalist who was also in Lhasa at the time filed a story with the Christian Science Monitor that same day:
Also, you might want to check in this weekend with two websites that are serving as a relay station for reports and opinion on the Tibet situation: Phayul, run by Tibetan exiles, and the Chinese-English East South West North.

Now I'll rush to update my earlier post of today to reflect news about the statement last week by the Dalai Lama's translator. The accusation is not exactly a call for an investigation (although I haven't read the entire statement) but it's enough to suggest that the Tibetan government in exile will do so at some point, if they haven't already.

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