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Lhasa, March 10

Written by "Steve and Ulrike"
March 11, 2008
Originally published on http://steve.ulrike.stivi.be/english/

What happened at the central square.

Today we see how the real situation is in Tibet. The day seems to be silent and peacefull, even boring. Until 6 o´clock. then 100s of Tibetans gather together on the Bakhor Square. They form a strong, silent, peacefull circle around the police who keep the middle of the square open. Soon they call for backup. Undercoveragents, not so difficult to recognize film the whole happening. Especially the faces. This is one method to create fear. Suddenly there is panic. 6 or 7 monks are arrested and driven away. Tibetans are very scared because of the stories about the prisons and tortures. In the mean while big numbers of policemen arrive. They drive everybody apart. But until sunset small groups of people stay around. There are tourists, Tibetans and Tibetan resembling spies. Apparently we stick around to long because some Tibetans start to warn us to be careful about the undercoverpolice who are watching us closely. We even get a note that says we are being followed and have to be carefull about what we say. The whole evening misty figures keep following us, even to the restaurant and the bar.

The Chinese police almost manages to give the impression that it´s just a small manifestation that they can easily control. From our Portugees friends, Miguel and Clara, who visit one of the biggest monasteries (Drepung) nearby, we learn that the Chinese approach (away from touristic eyes) is much harder. When they walk together with lots of monks towards Lhasa to join the manifestation, they are brutely blocked by armed police and military. Miguel and Clara are picked out of the crowd (they were the only tourists at that time) and chased away. All the shop have to close and all the people around are obliged to leave the scene. They get no information and cannot ask or see anything. It is impossible to take pictures, unfortunately. Later that day, Miguel returns and tries to get in, being very concerned about the monks. He can get very close to the monastery and sees how army trucks and ambulances go and come back from the scene. Then he is caught, questionned and dropped back at his hotel. We are very concerned what happened or still happens there, behind the scenes. Nobody will know.

Lhasa goes to sleep with a sad and uncomfortable feeling. Maybe it is hard to imagine how bad this feels. We can see now how fortunate we are, having freedom of speach, freedom of going where we like. Everybody is afraid to speak. Even us, free born people, not for our sake but for that of the Tibetans who can get in trouble just by speaking with us. It´s also very spooky to notice that we are being followed and approached by men who really try their best to look like tibetans, being unhandy with their mala. They ask us what is happening, what we have seen and if we have taken pictures.

Here a few pictures and a videoshot we dare to take, but it´s nothing like the reality we´ve seen and felt:

lhasa March 10

This bunch of harmless looking policemen where just a distraction. The undercovers were the hard men, who were also watching us closely, so taking pictures of them was no option.

lhasa March 10

Lelf a woman who obviously was watching us, tourists.


Everybody is watching and nobody can do anything...

video-shot! (look for "the man in black")

Tomorrow we leave for our beautifull trip to the Nepal border. Tibet will always have a deep impression on us.
Please do support the Tibetans who are struggeling for some freedom
Steve and Ulrike, March 11, 2008 - 10:55