A couple of small explosions in Tibetan areas of Qinghai Province have damaged a police car and a fire truck, wire reports say. A sign of things to come? Apparently the Dalai Lama thinks so. He told a German newspaper he is worried about an “explosion” of violence and said he had heard that Han Chinese living in Tibetan areas were arming themselves. Very worrying if true. I have seen plenty of cases where such ethnic tension and mutual fear can spiral rapidly out of control. Today, March 10 is the first date to worry about, the 50th anniversary of the uprising in Lhasa against Chinese rule that ultimately lead to the DL fleeing (17th) to India (he arrived March 31st). There’s also the one year anniversary of last year’s unrest on the 14th. The month is also the 20th anniversary of the bloody suppression of demonstrations in 1989, protests ultimately obscured by the Tiananmen incidents in May and June.
March, as my colleague at the Economist puts it, is the cruelest month in Tibet. Let’s hope there won’t be another date added to this grim calendar of memory this year.