Radio Free Asia: Chinese police fire at Tibetan protesters

Chinese police in a continuing crackdown fire at protesters defying orders to display the national flag

A Tibetan activist holds a 'Free Tibet' banner near the Taj Palace Hotel, venue of the meeting between China's Prime Minister and the Indian External Affairs minister in New Delhi on May 20, 2013.
Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese security forces fired into a crowd of Tibetan residents who were demanding the release of a fellow villager detained for protesting orders to display China’s national flag, Radio Free Asia reported Monday.

Police also fired tear gas at the protesters on Sunday in Biru County in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and dozens were injured, the U.S.-backed broadcaster said Tuesday.

The report, which cited unnamed local and exiled Tibetan sources, could not be independently confirmed. Local Communist Party and government officials either could not be reached by phone or hung up shortly after answering.

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), a Tibetan rights group, earlier reported authorities had intensified the security presence in Biru County and nearby areas after residents had refused orders to display Chinese flags to commemorate National Day on Oct. 1.

The ICT said government teams had been sent to Biru, known as Driru in Tibetan, ahead of the national holiday to compel local Tibetan residents to enforce loyalty to the Communist Party.

China has claimed Tibet as part of its territory for centuries, but Tibetans say they were largely independent prior to the occupation by communist troops in 1950.

In Sunday's unrest, protesters were calling for the release of a local resident, Dorje Draktsel, who was detained last week after participating in demonstrations against the flag order, Radio Free Asia reported.

The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile based in India said it has received reports of the firing in Driru, but had few details about the incident. Spokesman Tashi Phuntsok said by phone that the exiled Tibetans had heard some protesters were injured, but he did not know how many.

Many Tibetans, who resent the Chinese government’s crackdown on Tibetan and Buddhist culture, say Beijing's economic policies in the Himalayan region have largely benefited only Chinese migrants. China, in return, says it has made vast investments to boost the region's economy and improve Tibetans’ quality of life.

Meanwhile, in the northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang, an official Chinese newspaper said authorities have detained more than 100 people from late June to the end of August for the spread of "religious extremism."

The detentions, reported by the Xinjiang Daily, are the latest in an official campaign in Xinjiang to police the spread of ideas critical of the government’s rule. Troops have also poured into the restive region,

Germany-based Uighur activist Dilshat Rexit said Chinese authorities were using such charges as an excuse to crack down on Uighurs who go on the Internet to express their unhappiness about alleged government repression.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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