UN: 14 March 2008 – The top United Nations human rights official today voiced concern over the rising tensions between protesters and security forces in the Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding areas of China, noting that there have been reports of deaths and property destruction.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour issued a statement calling on the Chinese authorities to allow demonstrators to exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly.
Ms. Arbour also called on the Chinese Government to “refrain from any excessive use of force while maintaining order, and to ensure those arrested are not ill-treated and are accorded due process in line with international standards.”
It has been reported that on 10 March, roughly 60 monks were arrested in Lhasa during a peaceful demonstration. The following day, Chinese police fired tear gas at some 600 monks who were demanding the release of the arrested monks. There have been further reports of violence today.
The violence – the worst in Tibet since 1989 – erupted on the fifth day of largely peaceful protests that began on last Monday’s anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.Lhasa, Tibet‘s main city, was reported quiet on Sunday, locked down by a heavy Chinese security presence.
Analysts say the last thing Beijing wants is bloodshed tarnishing its image before it stages the Olympic Games in August, but at the same time it cannot show weakness to the protesters.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue
Torture, though on decline, remains widespread in China, UN expert reports