- Image: A monk reacts as he participates in a debate as part of Tibetan New Year celebrations at a temple in Langmusixiangm (Reuters/Carlos Barria).
US-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia said in a statement that the monks set themselves on fire on Sunday outside the Jokhang temple, a renowned center for Buddhist pilgrimage in Lhasa.
- Jampa Yeshi runs engulfed in flames to protest Pres. Hu Jintao in New Delhi March 26, 2012 (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
They were taken away by authorities within minutes of setting themselves on fire, according to RFA, and had reportedly died. "The security forces arrived immediately and put out the fire and all the tourists in the area were cordoned off from the site," a witness told the broadcaster.
"Within 15 minutes, the area was cleaned and not a trace of the incident was left." Radio Free Asia quoted a source as saying the situation in Lhasa was now "very tense" and the city was filled with police and paramilitary forces. More
The quality footage, which is believed to have been shot in 2008, displays an unprecedented show of force by Chinese authorities using special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams, accompanied by trained dogs and an armored vehicle. They assume an attack formation and aim assault rifles at sleeping villagers. In all, four confused-looking men and one elderly woman are taken away. Each is forced to stare into the camera and provide details to the cameraman, who is presumably a PAP.
Unlike previous unrest, such as the 1989 riots in Lhasa or the March 2008 incident, during which nervous and sometimes vengeful PAP officers were confronted with an emergency, the troops in this video are not responding to any immediate threat.
This video was taken offline and has since emerged on YouTube. The material follows the release on the citizens' journalism Boxun Web site of eight photographs showing Tibetan prisoners being paraded by a large contingent of armed police in China's Sichuan Province, from 2008 or later.
The two releases have led analysts to conclude that someone in China, perhaps within the security apparatus, is leaking information to show the true scale of the repression in Tibet and neighboring areas in China.
Reacting to the video, Dawa Tsering, chairman of the Tibet Religious Foundation of the Dalai Lama -- the de facto representative of the exiled government in Taiwan -- said that the way Chinese treat Tibetans shows them to be a conquered and colonized people.
"Any Tibetan with a heart will never forget this humiliation. We will not forget how arrogant the Chinese are and the humiliation we went through," he said. "We will remember this for generations to come, and this memory will constantly remind us of what we should do."
Former Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Taiwan President Tashi Tsering said he was not surprised by what Chinese police officers did to Tibetans. "That's how the Chinese Communist Party has always treated Tibetans," Tashi said via telephone.
- (Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin, TaipeiTimes.com)