Gunfire and violence are filling the streets of Tibet this morning, following on the heels of protests that started on Monday. Many reports are labeling the protests as the most serious challenges to Chinese government authority in nearly two decades.
What's happening and why? "It was evident to most observers - including the State Department - that the human rights situation in Tibet deteriorated last year. The reports in the last couple of days of peaceful protests being broken up with tear gas, of monks being detained and beaten, and of the sound of gunfire coming from monasteries around Lhasa are sadly predictable given the severity of the situation described by the 2007 report, and could be a harbinger of further clashes between Tibetans and Chinese authorities in this Olympics year," said Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of the International Campaign for Tibet. The protests come at a time when China is eager to present a harmonious image to the rest of the world as Beijing prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August.
The International Campaign for Tibet is inviting Tibet supporters to join their Olympics campaign, Race for Tibet. Organizers hope to challenge the "Chinese government to use the Olympics opportunity to step forward on the world stage, abandoning its human rights abuses and failed policies in Tibet."
For frequently updated information on the continuing crisis, check out Tibet Will Be Free, published by Students for Free Tibet International.