Tibetan Monks Disrupt Government-Arranged Tour for Foreign Journalists བོད་སྐད།

A group of Tibetan monks disrupted a tour for foreign journalists Thursday in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and accused Chinese authorities of lying about recent unrest.

About 30 monks interrupted the tour while reporters were visiting Jokang Temple and being escorted by Chinese authorities. Dressed in crimson robes, some monks shouted and others wept as they told reporters that Chinese authorities were lying about the recent unrest.

The monks denied they were involved in the violence and refuted China's accusations that Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was behind the recent peaceful protests that turned violent.

The monks told reporters that they just want freedom.

Reporters say their Chinese government handlers tried to pull them away during the brief encounter.

Nearly 30 foreign journalists arrived in Lhasa Wednesday for a three-day tour. Reporters with VOA were not among those invited. The group are the first foreign journalists to visit the area since anti-government protests broke out.

Jokang Temple is one of Tibetan Buddhism's most sacred sites, and was one key location in Lhasa of recent protests against Chinese rule.

An AP reporter who is part of the entourage says a police presence in Tibet was heavy along the route from the airport as well as in the capital. He said the journalists were afforded only a limited glimpse of Lhasa, but that they did get to see some of the shops that were burned during the protests.

Tibet exile groups say at least 140 people have been killed in the unrest that has spread from the capital to other Tibetan regions in China. Beijing authorities say at least 20 civilians were killed.

Peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa began on March 10 to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Tibetan exile groups say the situation worsened and turned violent after Chinese police used force to stop the rallies.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.