Their situation is nearly hopeless but many Tibetans seem willing to sacrifice themselves to draw attention to their plight and to show the world the brutality of the Chinese government.
The protests, sparked by the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising that sent Tibet’s Dalai Lama into exile, are the latest embarrassment to hit 2008 Olympic-host China, which has attracted international criticism over its human rights record.
Quoting the Tibetan government, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said 10 were killed in Lhasa Friday after police blocked a march by monks, sparking the violence.
“The victims are all innocent civilians, and they have been burnt to death,” an official with the regional government told Xinhua.
Tibetan exiles in India meanhwile cited unconfirmed reports that at least 100 people were killed and many more injured.
Video broadcast on China’s CCTV Saturday showed flames and black smoke rising the market, where hundreds of rioters used hands, feet and sledge hammers to break down doors and shatter windows.
One of the targets of their violence was a Bank of China branch. Protesters, including some monks dressed in red robes, could be seen overturning cars and throwing rocks to chase away other people. There was no sign of Chinese police in the video.
The protests in Tibet began Monday when hundreds of monks rallied on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Beijing that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.
Police used gunfire and tear gas to quell the Lhasa protest, according to witnesses, human rights groups and Xinhua.
Demonstrators set fire to vehicles and shops. One source said late Friday that up to a third of the city may be on fire and that power lines had been cut.