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Victims recount experience in riot in Lhasa
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If all had gone according to plan, Mei Yan, scheduled to give birth in mid-March, would have been sleeping peacefully in her comfortable home, greeting the arrival of a new life.

Her rosy dream was shattered by a fire that destroyed her house last Friday in Southwest China's Tibet Plateau, the peak of the world. The fire wasn't a naturally occurring one; it was ignited by mobs in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet.

Lying restlessly in an ordinary room at the Rescue Station of Lhasa, Mei Yan remained fearful. "My child is to come into the world soon, but I have no idea where we will go," said Mei Yan sadly, stroking her belly.

The homeless mother-to-be, who came from neighboring Gansu Province a year ago with her husband to run a small restaurant near the mosque of the old downtown area of the plateau city, fearfully recalled how she saw home burned.

At about 2 p.m., Mei Yan was helping her parents serve customers. Suddenly, a hue and cry erupted outside. Her brother Dawuda rushed in yelling "shut the door, there's a riot."

Mei Yan rushed to slam the door. The family climbed to the second floor of the restaurant, where they lived. Outside the window, they saw scores of 20-something Tibetans hurling stones at shop doors along the street. The mob soon tried to open the iron roller door of Mei Yan's restaurant. When they failed, they threw bottles of gasoline through windows to burn the restaurant.

"I shook in my shoes and dared not utter a sound," said Mei Yan. "I heard the restaurant burning downstairs and the smoke nearly choked us." Fortunately, the police showed up shortly. "We got away in one piece. But the restaurant is gone."

Mei Yan and her family survived the violence by "a small number of rioters," as stated by Doji Cezhug, the mayor of Lhasa, are among thousands of Lhasa residents whose lives were threatened last Friday afternoon.

The mobs swarmed the commercial streets of Bargor, Linkuo, Sera and the Ngaqen Road, Second Ring Road and Beijing Middle Road in downtown Lhasa to smash, stone, loot and set fire.

Thirteen innocent civilians were burned or stabbed to death, and 325 people were injured. Damage has increased to more than 200 million yuan (about 28 million U.S. dollars), according to the Tibetan regional government. The violence damaged 422 shops, six hospitals, seven schools and 120 homes, and 84 vehicles were torched.

"The severe violence and riot in Lhasa is neither a social security problem, nor an ethnic problem," said Ragdi, former vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's parliament.

"The riot was maliciously incited into bloody violence on purpose to pressure the Chinese government [and] undermine the upcoming Beijing Olympics," said Ragdi.

Since March 10, more than 300 monks from the Zhaibung Monastery have ventured into downtown Lhasa. The monks, who were supposedly adherents of peace, aggressively confronted security forces. It was the anniversary of an earlier event: on March 10, 1959, Lhasa witnessed a failed rebellion aimed at the secession of Tibet from the motherland.

At Sera Monastery, 10 monks held up flags of the so-called Tibetan exile government and shouted "Tibetan independence". In the ensuing days, some monks chanted independence slogans and challenged officers who were maintaining order.

On the same day that the 300 ventured into downtown Lhasa, groups of monks started a "March to Tibet" from across the border in India.

The Dalai clique maintained real-time contacts, sources say, through varied channels with the rioters in Lhasa, and dictated instructions to his devotees and coordinated their moves.

Rioters came with backpacks full of stones and flammable liquids. They were well-organized and not spontaneous, as the Dalai clique claimed.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, the Dalai Lama always wrongly claims that Tibet is a nation occupied by China, denying the fact that the region has historically been a part of China.

The lawbreakers, killing innocent people and disturbing social order, aroused strong condemnation from people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.

"Religion advocates care and mercy, but the reckless rioters attacked hospitals and child-entertainment centers," said Cering Doje, deputy director of the religion research institute of the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences (TASS). "They seemed to have lost basic humanity, and there was no mercy at all."

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