March 21, 2008 / 8:44 AM / 10 years ago

TIMELINE: Day-by-day record of Tibet protests

(Reuters) - Tibet’s largest anti-China protests in almost two decades broke out on March 10, sparking riots in Lhasa, demonstrations in nearby ethnic Tibetan provinces, and daily pro-Tibet protests around the world.

Here is a timeline of the largest and most sustained protests Tibet has seen since Beijing crushed pro-independence demonstrations in 1989.

* Monday, March 10: Five-hundred monks from the Drepung monastery defy Chinese authorities to march into Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, to mark the 49th anniversary of a quashed rebellion against communist rule. Monks from Lhasa-area Sera and Ganden monasteries also protest.

* March 12: Thousands of Chinese security personnel fire tear gas to try to disperse more than 600 monks from the Sera monastery taking part in another day of street protests.

* March 14: About 300-400 residents and monks take to the streets in Lhasa. Shops and cars are set on fire. Chinese authorities seal off Drepung, Sera and Ganden monasteries. China says 10 people killed in Lhasa, in unrest masterminded by the Dalai Lama. Spokesman for the Dalai Lama rejects the claim as baseless.

* March 15: Chinese authorities say Lhasa rioters will gain “leniency” if they give themselves up by midnight on Monday. Protesters in Sydney remove the Chinese flag at China’s consulate building and try to raise a Tibetan flag.

* March 16: Armed police patrol streets of Lhasa. China suspends foreign travel permits to Tibet. Protests spread to ethnic Tibetan areas in Sichuan and Gansu provinces. Tibetans hurl petrol bombs and set a police station and market on fire in Sichuan’s Aba region.

In Gansu’s Machu town, a crowd of 300-400 carry pictures of the Dalai Lama, in defiance of authorities. Tibet’s government-in-exile, in Dharamsala, India, says 80 people have been killed in riots. French riot police use tear gas to disperse about 500 pro-Tibet protesters outside the Chinese Embassy in Paris. New York police say protesters throw stones at officers outside the Chinese consulate in Manhattan.

* March 17: Tibet governor Qiangba Puncog says security forces exercised “massive restraint” and did not use lethal weapons against protesters, but 13 “innocent civilians” were killed. Midnight deadline passes.

* March 18: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao dismisses calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in August, and accuses the Dalai Lama of inciting unrest to sabotage the Games. About 100 pro-Tibet protesters clash with Australian police by the Chinese consulate in Sydney.

* March 19: China turns foreigners back from areas close to Tibet and says that about 160 Lhasa rioters have given themselves up to authorities. Olympic organizers vow the Olympic torch will travel to Tibet despite the deadly riots.

* March 20: China arrests 24 suspects charged with “grave crimes” in Lhasa, and reports that four protesters were shot and wounded by police in a Tibetan community in Sichuan province earlier in the week. Troops block roads in Kangding, Sichuan, a town with a large Tibetan population. In Nepal, riot police detain at least 20 Tibetan protesters, including monks, to stop an anti-China march to the United Nations office in Kathmandu.

* March 21: Tibetans in southwest Sichuan province say they believe several people were killed in anti-Chinese riots in Aba prefecture when police fired on protesters.

Source: Reuters

Writing by Gillian Murdoch, Singapore Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by David Fogarty

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