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Restoring faith
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EDUCATION IS PRIORITY: Students at Lhasa No.2 Middle School are back in class. The school resumed operation on March 17 after the violent riots on March 14

It was 7:30 p.m. on March 26. Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region and a world-famous tourist attraction, was unnaturally quiet. Many stores and restaurants had already locked their doors. There was little traffic and few pedestrians on the streets. From time to time a police car cruised by on patrol. "I was so afraid when I saw the bad things happening on TV," said Li Fasheng, a seven-year-old Tibetan boy who is a first-grade student at Lhasa No.1 Primary School. He was one of a few pedestrians taking a walk with his parents in the Potala Palace Square.

The bad thing the little boy referred to took place on March 14 when rioters set off a destructive rampage in the city, setting fire to buildings, looting banks, schools and shops, and randomly stoning, beating and killing civilians who they deemed not to be Tibetans.

"My school had six days off because it was dangerous for us to go out on the street," Li told Beijing Review, adding that he was not afraid now because his father told him the "bad thing" was over.

Dreadful memories

"On the morning of March 14, I heard them screaming loud outside the door. They threw stones at our hospital and broke many of the windows on the second floor," recalled Chandui, 63, a Tibetan doctor and head of the outpatient clinic of the Hospital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

                  The Lhasa Riots in Numbers          
civilians killed

382 civilians wounded
242 police and armed police officers wounded or killed on duty

120 residential houses burned
908 shops burned, smashed or looted
7 schools vandalized
5 hospitals attacked
250 million yuan ($35.7 million) in damage to properties
29 arrest warrants issued by March 25 for people allegedly involved in the riots
More than 280 rioters surrendered themselves to police by March 25

Chandui's clinic is close to the Jokhang Monastery where the riots first broke out. People were frightened by the rioters and ran into the clinic for shelter.

"I had no idea why they wanted to attack us. I was so outraged at what the mob did but all we could do was to shut the gate to keep them out," said Chandui. "The attack went on for nearly two hours, but fortunately no one was hurt in our clinic."

"I never expected such violence would happen right in front of our gate. What these thugs have done damaged peace and stability here," Chandui added.

The violent crimes have left dreadful memories in the minds of many, which will be embedded there for the rest of their lives.

Tang Qingyan, who owned a garment store in the center of Lhasa, was too sad to recall the day when five young female employees in his store were burned alive by the rioters.

"Some of the girls had their fists tightly clenched when their bodies were found," said the shop owner, who came to Lhasa from neighboring Sichuan Province a couple of years ago. The ages of the five young victims ranged from 19 years to 24 years and one of them was a Tibetan women.

Standing in front of the charred store, which has been turned into a memorial and is visited each day by a continuous string of strangers, Tang said he would not leave Lhasa and would go on running his business because he believes only a small fraction of Tibetans really want to stir up trouble and hatred.

By March 21, 18 civilians and one police officer were confirmed dead during the unrest, according to a news release from the Tibet regional government. In addition, 241 police officers were injured, 23 critically. The damage was estimated at around 250 million yuan (about $35.7 million), said the local government.

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