Updated March 28
Evidence is accumulating that the Chinese regime orchestrated violence in Lhasa in order to discredit the peaceful protests of Buddhist monks.
According to the Dalai Lama's Chinese translator, Ngawang Nyendra, a witness reported that a Chinese policeman in Lhasa disguised himself as a Tibetan and joined the protesters holding a knife in his hand. This witness also recognized the man from BBC news footage and news photos provided by China.
A Chinese woman from Thailand (who prefers that her name not be used) was studying in Lhasa when the protests broke out in March. As one of her friends is a policeman, she visited him at the local police station quite often and got to know other policemen there.
After the protests on March 14, she and other foreigners were sent to the police station where she saw a man with a knife in his hand walking in with some arrested Tibetans. The man later took off the Tibetan-style clothes and put on a police uniform.
This woman was sent out of Lhasa with other foreigners the next day. When she arrived in India via Nepal, she recognized the policeman she had seen in Tibetan garb from BBC TV news and photos that the Chinese embassy had provided to the media.
Ngawang Nyendra said the witness was shocked when she saw the policeman in the BBC broadcast. She realized then that the man had disguised himself as a Tibetan in order to incite people to riot.
The witness contacted a Tibetan organization in India and told them what she had seen. At a rally on March 17, the organization publicized a news photo originally provided by the Chinese Embassy in India in which the policeman appeared as a Tibetan rioter.
On Xinhua and other Chinese-language Web sites friendly to the regime, after the rally at which the witness spoke, the policeman in disguise had disappeared from photos taken at the same scene in which he had previously been visible. Recently, the original man-with-the-knife photo has returned to these Web sites.
Ngawang Nyendra said, "This photo with this man in it was sent by the Chinese embassy to BBC and Radio Free Asia. The other photo was sent out later. They are exactly the same except the man has disappeared from the second photo.
"From the TV news footage, you can see this man attempting to stab other people with a knife. But in later shots you can't find this person any more. They were acting. After people raised questions about these shots, this footage never appeared on TV again."
The main claim of the dramatic story told last week by the Dalai Lama's translator—that the Chinese regime incited the riots in Lhasa—has lately found corroboration from other sources.
There is first of all the Chinese regime's track record of staging this kind of deception.
This is not the first time that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sent policemen to act as rioters in civilian protests in Tibet to stir up violence and frame the protesters.
In his "Events in Lhasa March 2-10, 1989", the Chinese journalist Tang Daxian revealed how the CCP orchestrated violence as part of a plan to suppress the 1989 protests in Tibet.
According to the article, "On the dawn of March 5, the Armed Police in Tibet received the action order from the Chief Commander of Armed Police headquarter, Mr. Li Lianxiu.…The Special Squad should immediately assign 300 members to be disguised as ordinary citizens and Tibetan monks, entering the Eight-Corner Street and other riot spots in Lhasa, to support plain-clothes police to complete the task.
"Burn the Scripture Pagoda at the northeast of Dazhao Temple. Smash the rice store in the business district, incite citizens to rob rice and food, attack the Tibet-Gansu Trading Company. Encourage people to rob store products, but, only at the permitted locations."
According to the commentator Mr. Chen Pokong, "In this year's protest, the riot scene was quite similar to that of 1989. A group of young men in their twenties acted in a well organized way. They first shouted slogans, then burnt some vehicles near the Ramoche Monastery, and then broke into nearby stores and robbed them, and finally burnt scores of the stores.
"The actions seemed well planned and coordinated, and were conducted with skill. At the crossroads near the Ramoche Monastery, someone prepared in advance many stones of a similar size, each weighing a couple of kilograms. These stones magically escaped the attention of numerous policemen and plainclothes agents who flooded the city."
Mr. Chen's account of what happened this year is corroborated by the British high-tech spy agency GCHQ, whose satellites observed Chinese police incite the riots in Lhasa, according to a report in the G2 Bulletin.
These accounts also help make sense of puzzling aspects of a report in the New York Times on the scene on the streets of Lhasa on March 14.
According to the NY Times, "Foreigners and Lhasa residents who witnessed the violence were stunned by what they saw, and by what they did not see: the police. Riot police officers fled after an initial skirmish and then were often nowhere to be found."
"One monk reached by telephone said other monks noticed that several officers were more interested in shooting video of the violence than stopping it. 'They were just watching,' the monk said. 'They tried to make some videos and use their cameras to take some photos,'" according to the NY Times.
The publication of the photo of the man with the knife by Xinhua and its distribution by the Chinese Embassy, as reported by the Dalai Lama's translator, would be consistent with this monk's observation.
Meanwhile, the Tibetans continue to assert that the Chinese regime has been hoodwinking the world about what happened during the protests in Lhasa.
30 young monks broke into a press briefing behind held on Thursday by the Chinese regime in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. According to USA Today reporter Callum MacLeod (as reported by Reuters), the young monks shouted, "Don't believe them. They are tricking you. They are telling lies."
With reporting by Stephen Gregory and Hao Feng