Even Jogging Is A Crime Post-March 14
(iFeng blog) In Post-March 14-Lhasa, Even Jogging Is A Crime. By Ji Han (季涵). March 31, 2008.
Yesterday afternoon, Lhasa saw a farce in which all the citizens, shop-owners, policemen and hospital workers participated. This is how the script went:
At around 2:30pm, the western suburbs municipal administrators went to inspect the street vendors. As soon as the street vendors saw the municipal administrators, they began running. This resulted in a a scene of the municipal administrators chasing after the vendors. The pedestrians saw them running and, without knowing why, they thought that the rioters were back. So the pedestrians began to run as well. So the road was filled with people running. When the shop-owners saw the street was filled with people running, they thought that there was another riot and they immediately shuttered their shops. After shuttering their shops, they phoned their friends and relatives elsewhere and told them that there was another riot and everybody else had better be prepared.
Meanwhile over at Taiyangdao, a group of more than 100 Tibetans whose family members had been arrested during the March 14 incident were marching to petition at the municipal government office. When the pedestrians saw them, they thought that the group was ready to assault the municipal government office. So they began to run away. All of a sudden, the road of Taiyangdao was filled with running people. The commercial shops immediately shuttered their gates and the telephone calls began.
At the Baiyi Supermarket on Beijing Middle Road, the manager saw the people running on the street and the shops closing their doors. He ran away too, and his employees also ran away without even settling the bills. Their customers also began to run without even paying their bills.
The Lhasa police saw people running in the streets and thought that something had happened. So the police cars came out screaming on the streets. The ambulances came out as well. Finally, the armed policemen came out to and checked the identification papers of everybody at the street corners.
The armed police officers on duty at the intersection of
Youth Road and North Khor Road
The public buses were filled with people trying to rush home form the riot. Taxis were doing a brisk business. Cell phone calls were getting busy signals. Everybody looked scared.
In less than 30 minutes, more than half of the shops in Lhasa were closed and the streets were deserted.
A random sample of people was interviewed, and there were no uniform answers. They said that there was trouble in Beijing Middle Road, or Taiyangdao, or the western suburbs. It sounded as if all of Lhasa was in frighteining chaos.
I did not feel like having lunch. I tossed my lunch into the garbage pail, I washed the bowl, I shuttered the store and I fled home.
I took this photo at 3:02pm on March 29. Practically all the shops were closed, as people rushed home.
A few shops were still open as their owners were watching the situation closely.
By that time, most of the workers were gone already so I did not capture the mass exit scene.
Today, I went back to work and my colleagues were laughing about the false alarm yesterday afternoon. There was no riot, and it was all a misunderstanding!
Just a misunderstanding?
For those who were scared out of their wits and raced home to hide until the next day, this was a cruel answer. Do you want me to laugh or cry? If I can, I would go out into the streets and curse everybody out!
Why do I want to run back to my home in terror? Everybody in Lhasa was scared out of their minds. Any extraordinary occurrence in Lhasa resulted in a chain reaction. If you just jog in the street, you are going to cause everyone to imagine the worst without any inhibition. The knife-wielding people on March 14 are etched inside your heads -- Comrades, if you don't start running, you will be the next one to die a bloody death! So if you want to live, you better start running!
I went to take the bus yesterday. I forgot something and I came back to the office which had its door half-closed. My colleagues' looks suggest that I was being pursued by knife-wielding rioters. The boss lady patted me on the back and comforted me: "It's alright! Don't be afraid! Don't be afraid!" I squatted on the floor next to the boss lady and I explained things to her even as I was panting hard. I felt as if I would never make it home otherwise. This is something that mainland Chinese people may never understand.
This is far too exciting! I believe that I have a hidden heart condition. If this happens a few more times, I am going to have a real heart condition. For my sake, I ask all Lhasa citizens not to jog in the streets. In post-March-14 Lhasa, even jogging in the street is a crime!
No matter their race, the citizens of Lhasa are feeling that their psychological burden is like a hard-stretched string about to break. Even though there are armed policemen patrolling the streets, the sense of insecurity is always there.
The economy of Lhasa has been destroyed. When will it recover to the pre-March-14 stage? The shops on the main streets are closed before 8pm. In Lhasa, the skies do not darken until 8:30pm. At 7:30pm, the sun is still warm outside. Can you imagine how a scene in which the sun is shining bright outside but all the shops are shuttered? Can you imagine the terror of the people who live in that kind of environment?
This is a photo of Lhasa at 7:30pm. Very few shops are still open. It is courageous just to have the shutters down halfway.
Very people patronize the formerly bustling bars and dance halls. Nobody dares to go out. When you encounter a stranger in the street at night, you get goose pimples as you go into full alert. When the person goes past you, you can finally relax.
Many people devise their own weapons of self-defense.
This steel pole is used as the defense weapon at our store. We will use it on any intruder. But yesterday, when I took this pole to the store entrance ready to defend our precious store against all intruders, my colleagues looked at me as if "I've gone out of my mind." Even I felt silly, because my priority should be to go home as quickly as possible instead of defending the store. Besides, I don't know how to use this object -- bwaaahhh!
For the sake of certain people with ulterior motives, I take a special photo of the store weapon as well as the tool for rolling down the steel gate. Most knowledgeable people know that the steel gate is rolled down by an iron hook (instead of upwards). Some people say that this is just a coat hanger. But would you use a steel pole to hang your clothes? If you don't think that the steel pole works as a weapon, then would you rather than we use a knife or spear? Do you know that it is against the law to have knives and spears? Why would we let the police lock us up for possession of deadly weapons? Sorry, we are not stupid. Thanks!
Let me tell you about an episode at the bus station. Before even getting there, I saw two lamas standing there. I immediately took out and put on a surgical mask because I didn't want them to identify me as Han. Then I went into the bus stop still half-afraid because I was scared about what they might do. Only when I got home did I feel relieved.
I really value my own precious life. Life is beautiful. The world is beautiful. Why would I want to die for no good reason? Why do I want my parents to bury their child? Therefore, I must protect myself. I want to leave Lhasa alive and see my parents again. I believe that most people in Lhasa regardless of their ethnicity feel the same way as I do.
Because I am afraid to die and I want to live, I run away faster than anyone else. I will try everything possible to save myself. That is why that every little thing scares me, and that was why this farce occurred this afternoon.
We really don't want to continue living this way. We need to live in peace and quiet! Who can tell me when we can become as we did before?
When, oh when ...
Evening of March 30, 2008 in Lhasa
I thank everybody for their attention to what I wrote. Concerning what happened on March 29 as well as the current situation of the citizens of Lhasa, the truth cannot be just a matter of what I have to say. Many people live in Lhasa and you can check with them. I don't to want to deal with the comments on this post. I don't care if you agree or disagree with me. The truth of the matter will come out someday. If you have doubts about my photos and writings, you are welcome to come down to my store. I will show you the weapon and the iron hook used to bring down the rolling gate. Thanks!
Afternoon of March 31, 2008 in Lhasa
Related translated post by the same blogger: How Can I Forget Lhasa, March 14?