In March 2008 the largest anti-Chinese protests since perhaps the 1959 Uprising broke out in Tibet. Monks initially led the demonstrations, but they were soon joined by laypeople as unrest spread across the plateau. They called for freedom and independence and some defiantly marched with the Tibetan national flag, an act of immense courage since the last monk to carry the flag in protest, in 1988, was shot through the head. With the Beijing Olympics just around the corner, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initially responded cautiously, but it wasn’t long before its crackdown turned violent. It’s not known how many were killed in the riots, but in the aftermath Tibet became an even more repressive police state. Since then, nearly one hundred and fifty-five Tibetans, the last in 2018, have set fire to themselves in protest over the Chinese occupation of their country. (Given the remoteness of much of the region and the lengths to which the CCP goes to control the flow of information, the number is likely higher.)
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