BEIJING — Scores of Tibetan students demonstrated in Beijing on Sunday against the violent suppression of anti-Chinese protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
Police seized a banner reading "We Oppose the Armed Oppression of the Tibetan People and Demand a Peaceful Solution to the Tibetan Problem," according to students who spoke later with a Western reporter.
Police Fire on Crowd
The protest came after a Dec. 10 incident in Lhasa in which police opened fire on demonstrators advocating Tibetan independence. According to the official Chinese count, a monk was killed and 13 people were injured, but Western witnesses in Lhasa said it appeared that at least two or three people died. Two previous clashes in Lhasa in the past 15 months between anti-Chinese protesters and police left at least 14 people dead.
Many of the students protesting Sunday were from the Central Nationalities Institute, where they receive training for higher-level jobs in Tibet. Unauthorized demonstrations are illegal, and although it appeared that no students were arrested, they placed their careers at risk by participating in such a protest.
"We had to express our anger about what happened in Lhasa," a student later told a Western reporter. "All Tibetans everywhere are angry because the police are killing our people."
Police briefly detained a Western reporter, Seth Faison of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, who witnessed part of the demonstration and started to interview the protesters.
Students told Faison that they had marched past Tian An Men Square in central Beijing and the nearby government compound, called Zhongnanhai, where many of China's top leaders live and work. Faison spoke with the students near a highway interchange about a mile west of Zhongnanhai, as they were walking back toward their school.
Total as High as 150
Faison said that he saw about 60 protesters. Students who spoke later with another reporter estimated that the total number was as high as 150.
The official New China News Agency, in a three-sentence report on the incident, denied that any demonstration had occurred.
"More than 70 students of Tibetan nationality studying in Beijing were dissuaded from staging a demonstration at Tian An Men Square this morning," the agency reported.
"These Tibetan students of the Central Institute for Nationalities did not apply in advance to the police authorities for permission to stage a demonstration in accordance with regulations set by the municipal government," the agency said. "After the students were dissuaded by the police, they were taken back to the institute in buses sent by the institute authorities."
Faison, 29, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said that police officers pulled him away from the demonstrators, put him into a vehicle and took him to a police station, where he was questioned for two hours and then released.
Faison said the police told him he had violated three city regulations--trespassing on a public lawn, disturbing the flow of traffic and failing to follow police instructions. But they told him he would not be charged, he said.
"I did nothing incompatible with my job as a journalist and accept none of the accusations," Faison added.
Beijing claims sovereignty over Tibet dating from the 13th-Century Mongol conquest of both China and Tibet. But during many periods over the centuries--including the years from 1911 to 1950--Tibet has had \o7 de facto \f7 independence.
China sent troops into the region in 1950 and achieved firm control the following year. Since then, it has viewed advocacy of Tibetan independence as treason, punishable by imprisonment or death.