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Tibetan folks saved us, ethnic Han survivors say
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Source: Xinhua Lhasa Bureau

For many Lhasa residents, March 14 stopped being just another Friday -- it was a day when the capital was left in chaos after an outburst of beating, smashing, looting and burning.

The Tibet regional government said on Saturday at least 10 people were confirmed dead, including several from burns and gunshot wounds. But for the many ethnic Hans who were lucky enough to survive the disaster, they said it was the Tibetan folks who saved them.

Sun Pingjiang, an ethnic Han and owner of a Titan-styled accessories store near the Ramogia monastery, said he owed his life to an old Tibetan woman who saved him from bleeding to death.

"I was attacked by more than 30 people about my age when I was running from my store to my friend's. The mobs beat and stabbed me," said the 26-year-old.

"When I finally managed to run away, I stumbled along and knocked at every door I could for help. No one answered except a Tibetan woman in a chessboard game room," he said.

"She seemed scared at first because I was bleeding so hard that I could barely open my eyes. Then she took me in and called the emergency number 120 when the streets calmed down," he said.

Sun is being treated for leg and back injuries at the General Hospital of Tibet Military Command.

During Friday's riot, many local Tibetans came to the help of the Han Chinese and, together, they braced the rioters who went on a frenzied spree of destruction.

Ma Ruixia, a Han Chinese woman who owns clothes and souvenir shops on Bargor Street in the downtown, said her establishments were attacked twice by the mob. She survived with the help of her Tibetan landlord and neighbors.

"Around 2 p.m. Friday, I heard people shouting in the yard that rioters were coming and we needed to take shelter," she recalled.

"My Tibetan neighbors faced up to the mob and pleaded with them not to ravage my stores," she said, "I really didn't know what was going on out there. It was horrible."

When the attackers nonetheless pillaged her shops, Ma and her family had to hide under beds in the backyard chambers.

Her niece, nine-year-old Wang Yurong, said she heard Tibetans shouting outside, and dared not to make a sound.

Ma's other niece, Lu Beibei, 10, said they had to stay indoors for a whole day and only ate instant noodles. "My aunt told me it was chaos outside, and we would get killed if we went out," the girl said.

To Stay on in Lhasa

Sources told Xinhua that rioters had ransacked at least 100 shops. The four-storey Landun shopping mall in the old city center, which sold children clothes, was devoured by flames instigated by the horde.

Its owner, Ye Danping, and her 20 Tibetan employees barely survived after scrambling onto the roof of the building. "Some of my local Tibetan employees have been working with me for years, and they offered to protect my commodities in store," she said.

"My employees and I cried at what we saw and what we experienced. I was shattered when I saw years of hard work was lost to the fire."

However, the woman who came to Lhasa 15 years ago from coastal Zhejiang Province said she would stay on in Lhasa, because she took this place as her second hometown.

"I wish the government would properly handle the incident and make Lhasa a safe place again," she said.

(Xinhua Lhasa Bureau March 16, 2008)

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