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Mr. Wang said the protest was an attempt to “take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese government to make concessions to Tibet independence.”

“The Chinese government was forced to take lawful measures to protect local people’s life and property, restore social order and safeguard China’s territorial integrity, which is fully supported by the Chinese people including the Tibetan compatriots,” he said.

The accusations of use of force by the Chinese government are not new. 

However, Ms. Richardson said the purpose of the Human Rights Watch investigation was to “arm people with an alternative narrative of what happened.”

When diplomats and journalists are given access to Chinese officials, they can challenge the government line, she said. 

According to the report, Chinese security forces opened fire indiscriminately on demonstrators in at least four separate incidents, including in one area of downtown Lhasa on March 14.

“They were firing straight at people. They were coming from the direction of Jiangsu Lu firing at any Tibetans they saw, and many people had been killed,” said Pema Lhakyi (not her real name), a 24-year-old Lhasa resident.

Another recounted beatings at the hands of the People’s Armed Police (PAP). 

“The beatings continued in the courtyard. The PAP soldiers were using belts and the butt of their guns … They were kicking him on the ground, and he was bleeding a lot-there was so much blood. Then they left him just lying on the ground, motionless … I saw it with my own eyes,” said Lhundrup Dorje (not his real name), a resident from Lhasa.

In Lhasa alone, 21 people were killed and several hundred injured between March 14-15 in 2008, according to government figures.

The Chinese government had stated its intent to handle those detained in connection with the protests “according to the law.”

Ms. Richardson said the report “decisively refutes the Chinese government’s claim that it handled the protests in line with international standards and domestic laws.”

The report says thousands of demonstrators and ordinary Tibetans were detained without due process and without regard to legal procedures.

“Abuses by security forces are unlikely to quell, and may even aggravate, the longstanding grievances that prompted the protests in the first place,” Ms. Richardson said.

 

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