On Tibet Frontlines, Protestors 'Shot Like Dogs'

There are unconfirmed reports from Tibet of killings by Chinese troops.

ByABC News
March 17, 2008, 6:49 PM

DHARAMSALA, India, March 17, 2008— -- The Chinese military is shooting Tibetan demonstrators "like dogs," a Tibetan exile group said Monday, firing "indiscriminately" intro groups of people protesting Chinese rule.

The accusation was leveled by the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, a group run by exiled Tibetans in Dharamsala, India, home to the Dalai Lama. Exile groups in India receive some of the few reports from inside Tibet and have provided some of the only reporting from there since last Monday, when the most significant Tibetan protests in 20 years began.

"People have been saying they're shooting our people like dogs," Tenzin Norgay, the spokesman for the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, told ABC News, citing his sources inside Tibet. He spoke just a few hours after a deadline set by the Chinese government expired for the protestors to stop or face a crackdown. The protests, he says, continued, and so did the retaliation.

"From reports we have been able to gather, the military forces, they do not tolerate anything more than a few minutes and then immediately they begin shooting or beating. And if the crowd goes out of control they shoot indiscriminately," Norgay said.

He said his group had confirmed that 55 protestors had been shot to death in the last few days. The Tibetan government in exile, which is seated in Dharamsala, maintains that it has confirmed at least 80 deaths in the capital of Lhasa alone during one week of protests.

If the Chinese military is in fact shooting into crowds, the accusation is impossible to prove. The Chinese government has kicked all journalists out of the region and exiled groups' sources are anonymous and refuse to speak directly to the media for fear of their safety.

The Chinese government denies shooting protestors over the last week, saying that Tibetans themselves are at fault.

The "atrocities of the Tibetan independence forces manifested ... the hypocrisy and deceit of its peace and non-violence propaganda," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said, according to the Associated Press. "The Chinese government will unwaveringly protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity."