The March 14th 2008 Riots in Lhasa, Tibet
It was a defining time in my journey, and a defining moment for Tibet. On March 14th 2008, years of resentment and hatred spewed out into violent riots for freedom that saw Tibet’s capital city turn into a war zone.
Facts about the riots in Tibet:
The story behind this photograph
I was traveling overland from Nepal to Tibet and on into mainland China. Delayed due to the horrendous snow storms in early 2008 in southern China I was had secured a “single” group Tibetan permit and entered.
I won’t go into depth here as I’ve already written about my experiences during the 2008 Tibet riots here.
It was already late afternoon and the Chinese army were making their first push into Lhasa. People on the streets were either looting, running from mobs of rioters, or simply trying to shelter from potential violence.
Buildings were being set on fire. Lone, and small groups of people were seeking cover from explosions, debris, fire, gunshots, rioters, mobs, police, and soldiers.
What happened next is that the people here were taken away, without violence. It was more a rush of panic and fear.
On the roofs of surrounding buildings Tibetan’s shouted angrily and jeered at the soldiers below. Meanwhile a near unending charge of more tanks, armored personnel and armed soldiers ploughed into Lhasa.
In regards to photographs and video taken during the riots.
I bore witness to international media outlets offering sums upwards of USD$10,000 for photographic, video and eyewitness reports of what was happening on the ground. I also was witness to several people accepting these offers.
A more defining moment occurred when I also bore witness to local Tibetans who had helped foreigners escape the violence state their fear over being seen, or become a victim of mistaken identity and arrested due to this footage.
During those few days authorities were doing house to house searches. CCTV footage from international media was being used to identify people found on the streets. Not just single people were being arrested, but whole families.
It simply does not sit right with me morally.
Any photographs I have published have been blurred out, and identifying features removed as you will see if you choose to read the above articles I wrote.
This is the story behind just one, of many photographs I took during the 2008 Tibet riots.
Discover more great travel photographs
This is an additional photograph feature from my world travel photography gallery, documenting the story behind the picture
Please take a moment to leave a comment and share this photograph using your favorite social network
Liked this post?
|Never miss a post!|
Subscribe to my free newsletter now for updates. (Get my ebook for free!)
14 Replies to “Chinese tank corners Tibetans beside two burning buildings during the 2008 riots in Lhasa”
If u asks me, I would really love to see all the pictures u took during the riot, but I get it. U did the right thing, Dave.
Photo like this is spontaneous, u need neither plan nor fancy props to let people understand the message. This, deserve all the stars :)
Thank you for the stars. I think you’ll read a lot more about this on Monday and the amount of problems it’s caused over the years.
For now though, this is just a remembrance :)
Dave, indeed the many stories behind this image make it stand out above the average tourist shot taken from Lhasa (no matter how well shot and presented).
It must have been quite a confronting time to be in the country.
I also believe Black and White was the way to go here. Gets all the other distractions out of the way and lets the image tell the story.
Cheers Jason. There’s so much going on behind that photo it still sends, and always will send, adrenaline rushing.
I think an article I’ve written for Monday will reveal more.
I hear you about the black and white. Although the orange flames are really pouring out of the building on the left, the B & W as you wrote lets more of the story out.
Wow! To be able to have that level of mental clarity at a time like this to even take a coherent photo/video is something. Kudos!
It was all a bit surreal at the time. However I knew something big was occurring. There’s nothing quite like feeling a city shake to tell you that. So I just started to document it.
An excellent shot during twisted times …
Thanks Michael, good to hear from you.
You were present in documented perhaps one of the historic moments in this country, one that may be another step towards its implosion, much like the Soviet Unions? China is so mired in corruption only possible in a country run by one party. The small fish caught are hastily executed but the big fish continue swimming.
“…and documented…”. Hit the send button too quickly. Cheers, Dave.
No worries, and thanks.
I’m not sure China is ready for an implosion. At least not yet. Not enough of the people have access to communications to make them question the few suits with power.
Coming up from Lhasa to Mainland China and very few Chinese even knew something was going on. The media was simply censored. And international media shut down.
When you have complete control over a population like that then you are also protecting yourself if in power.
Then again I could be way off. But looking at the mid east revolutions, a lot of that was sparked by media/internet/etc. Most of China is still too censored for the majority to see what’s happening. And then there’s the whole “Fear” thing … ‘
I really do hope things improve. But in today’s world of politics …
Comments are closed.