Unity brings hope
To restore peace and stability, law enforcement authorities in Tibet issued a notice on March 15, urging lawbreakers in the riots to stop their activities and offering leniency to those who surrendered. More than 280 people involved in the March 14 riots had surrendered to the police by March 25, according to the Lhasa Police Bureau.
Investigations by the police show that some people were forced to participate in the unrest and some were even paid by secessionists to take part.
BACK TO PEACE: Tibetan women talk and laugh as they walk past the Jokhang Monastery on March 27
"If I didn't go, my house would have been set on fire," confessed 43-year-old Tibetan Balsang, who followed a gang of rioters to attack a shop and hit a policeman. After seeing the police notice on television, Balsang turned himself in. "I admit my guilt. I will never do anything to harm social stability again," he said.
By March 17, Lhasa had recovered stability. Shops reopened and government agencies and schools began to resume normal operations, according to Lhasa Mayor Doje Cezhug.
"I don't think such a violence will happen again," Liu Hongjun, a Sichuan businessman who owns a small food store in Lhasa, told Beijing Review. "We all want to have a peaceful social environment and violence does no good for either Tibetans or Hans."
Li reopened his store on March 20. Though the business is not as good as before because of the impacts of the riots, he said he believes it will be back to normal sooner or later.
"I've been in Lhasa for seven years and have known a lot of Tibetans. They are kind and they never hesitate to give money when they pass a beggar," Li said.
Mutual understanding and longstanding harmonious coexistence among local residents of different ethnic groups have helped the riot-shocked city to restore its faith in a good and peaceful life.
"An important lesson we draw from the recent violence is that we have to be more unified to prevent similar tragedies from happening again," said Lhapa, a Lhasa resident who works at a local hospital.
"It was so exciting to see my classmates when we returned to school on March 17 after the violence," Wang Hongchao, a Han student at the Lhasa No.2 Middle School, told Beijing Review. Wang's school also fell victim to the riots. Two of the school's buildings were burned down.
Wang said that there are three Tibetan students in his class and one of them is a good friend of him. "I don't think our friendship has been influenced by the tragedies. After all, those rioters can't represent all the Tibetans," he added.
"We feel it is necessary to enhance anti-separatism education," said Deji Zholgar, the schoolmaster. On the walls of the campus, slogans have been put up to remind the students how much national unity matters to the country.
"I hope the impacts of the recent social turmoil will be dispersed as soon as possible. Compared to adults, it's more important to sow the seeds of loving peace in these young hearts," said the schoolmaster, adding that the regional government had already allocated 15 million yuan ($2.2 million) to repair the school's two burned buildings.
(Beijing Review April 1, 2008)