March 24th, 2008 06:36 EST
Fresh Tibetan Protests Taunt Chinese Officials
Tibetan exiles have reported fresh demonstrations in provinces of western China where protests spread from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
The Indian-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported protests Sunday in a Tibetan county of Qinghai province.
Protests in other areas of Qinghai province have been reported in the past week. Chinese authorities have tried to prevent foreign correspondents from verifying reports made by Tibetan exiles.
The London-based Free Tibet Campaign released photographs it says show a demonstration last week in the Qinghai town of Rebkong. The images show Buddhist monks holding a portrait of the Dalai Lama and a banner in Tibetan calling for self-rule.
Chinese state media reported Sunday that life is returning to normal in Ngaba County of Sichuan province where there have been major protests.
The report claimed that Tibetan protesters shouting independence slogans and holding Tibetan flags stormed government offices and ransacked shops last week.
Chinese authorities have admitted firing on the Ngaba protesters, but denied killing anyone. Rights group have released photographs of several bodies with bullet wounds that they allege were caused by police gunfire.
The Indian-based Tibet exile government has reported protests in other areas of Qinghai and Sichuan provinces in the past two days.
On Saturday, a group of nearly 30 Chinese dissidents called on Beijing to open direct talks with the Dalai Lama and to allow foreign media and United Nations investigators into Tibet.
The first name on the petition belongs to author Wang Lixiong. Wang says he and his Tibetan wife and fellow author Tsering Woeser have been under house arrest since the protests began.
The Chinese government puts the death toll from the March 14 riots in Lhasa at 19. Tibetan exile groups say at least 80 people were killed in Lhasa, and that clashes in China's Gansu province killed 19 more.
China has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the protests in an attempt to mar the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.
The Dalai Lama has denied calling for protests and says he supports holding the Olympics in Beijing.