Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lhasa Burns!

March 15th, 2008

Today our hearts are heavy with sadness and worry. Lhasa, our beloved home for a year and a half, is burning.
Information is scarce as the Chinese officials have blocked internet connection, satellite communications and virtually silenced any news coming out of Tibet. We don't really know any more than most of you who are following this story on the news. What we do know is this:

On the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising, March 10th, more than 300 monks and nuns began a march from Drepung Monastery towards the city center of Lhasa. This march was mirrored in other Tibetan concentrated places like Kathmandu, Labrang, Dharmsala and Toronto. With chants calling for an independent Tibet, the Lhasa march was halted by police and military before it made it more than a mile down the road.

The following days' protests, that brought both religious and lay people onto the streets, however were surprising in its scale and violence. Cars overturned, buildings smashed and burned, rocks being thrown,'s like scenes from Beirut or Gaza.

Photos and video coming over the wires are but a trickle, but what they do show is heart stopping. To see pillars of black smoke covering the Lhasa valley, monks and women smashing windows to cars and hotels, buildings burnings, and the inevitable columns of army trucks full of soldiers entering the streets and locking down the city...There have been reports now of more than 30 tanks (yes TANKS!) plying the central streets.

We are speechless in our shock and anxiety. Many of our friends are there and I can only imagine the harsh response that has been pledged by the authorities. Even with the eyes of the world on China as it prepares for its apparent "coming out party" for the Olympics in August, I am very, very concerned there will be terribly harsh and universal punitive actions taken. Increased military, curfews, more restrictions, more beatings, less news...they have already started to shut Tibet off again - no tourists are allowed in or out (some even locked out of their hotels and from all their belongings including passports, etc), no TV, no internet, no radio.

The silence that follows this scream is scarier than the scream.

This is crazy! I am honestly surprised that the protests have risen to this level of scope and violence. I'm saddened that is has come to this. Obviously there is great resentment and simmering discontent by the population in Tibet. This we all know. What is unknown now is how will it play out? And will we ever know what's really happening? And how, if there is a harsh crackdown (with violence, beatings, shootings) can we as a nation dedicated to spreading liberty and justice around the world support such a government?

The BBC has been the most extensive in its coverage. For more information I'd go there - (eyewitness accounts)
There are many links here. The video and "in pictures" links should be viewed.

We got word from someone inside Tibet this morning - "Lhasa in curfew. Riots still happening".

We are praying for temperance, peace and protection for those in Lhasa right's a very unsettling and anxious time for us personally...

May peace find hold again.

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