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Friday, March 21, 2008

Western journalist witnesses ethnically-based Tibetan vandalism

James Miles is a journalist with The Economist. He was in Lhasa, Tibet when the rioting began. The following is a transcript of an interview he gave to CNN.

...I've been a journalist in China now for 15 years altogether. This is the first time that I've ever got official approval to go to Tibet. And it's remarkable I think that they decided to let me stay there and probably they felt that it was a bit of a gamble. But as the protests went on I think they also probably felt that having me there would help to get across the scale of the ethnically-targeted violence that the Chinese themselves have also been trying to highlight.

Q. What you say you saw corroborates the official version. What exactly did you see?

A. What I saw was calculated targeted violence against an ethnic group, or I should say two ethnic groups, primarily ethnic Han Chinese living in Lhasa, but also members of the Muslim Hui minority in Lhasa. And the Huis in Lhasa control much of the meat industry in the city. Those two groups were singled out by ethnic Tibetans. They marked those businesses that they knew to be Tibetan owned with white traditional scarves. Those businesses were left intact. Almost every single other across a wide swathe of the city, not only in the old Tibetan quarter, but also beyond it in areas dominated by the ethnic Han Chinese. Almost every other business was either burned, looted, destroyed, smashed into, the property therein hauled out into the streets, piled up, burned. It was an extraordinary outpouring of ethnic violence of a most unpleasant nature to watch, which surprised some Tibetans watching it. So they themselves were taken aback at the extent of what they saw. And it was not just targeted against property either. Of course many ethnic Han Chinese and Huis fled as soon as this broke out. But those who were caught in the early stages of it were themselves targeted. Stones thrown at them. At one point, I saw them throwing stones at a boy of maybe around 10 years old perhaps cycling along the street. I in fact walked out in front of them and said stop. It was a remarkable explosion of simmering ethnic grievances in the city.

Read the whole transcript of the interview =>

CNN lists these highlights of the interview.

# James Miles, journalist with The Economist, was in Lhasa during violent protests
# Says he witnessed violence against ethnic Han Chinese and Muslim Hui minority
# Ethnic Tibetans involved in protests were "armed and very intimidating," he says
# He says he did not see any evidence of any organized anti-Chinese activity

This CNN page also has links to

* Tourist video shows riot, flames in Tibetan capital
* Timeline: Tibetan protests
* In The Field: Turmoil in Tibet
* iReport: Share your news and images
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