Dutch Woman Wounded In Nationalist Unrest Allowed To Leave Tibet
BEIJING (AP) _ A Dutch woman who was shot in the arm during a bloody protest in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and had her passport confiscated is being allowed to leave the volatile region, a Dutch diplomat said today.
Chinese authorities returned Christa Meindersma’s passport today, two days after confiscating it, said Willem de Bruin, adminstrative and consular attache at the Dutch Embassy.
He said he did not know when Ms. Meindersma would leave Lhasa, but her original intention had been to fly to Hong Kong on Thursday.
Dutch officials had been trying without success to get information on Ms. Meindersma’s condition since she was shot during a nationalist demonstration in Lhasa’s central square on Saturday.
De Bruin said the Chinese Foreign Ministry finally responded to his queries today. The Chinese move came after the Dutch Foreign Ministry in The Hague urged China to return Ms. Meindersma’s passport.
De Bruin said he did not know whether the Chinese had returned passports to other foreigners who also had their travel documents seized. At least four other Western travelers had their passports confiscated, said Ron Schwartz, a sociology professor from the University of Newfoundland in St. Johns, Canada.
Schwartz was contacted in Lhasa by telephone.
China’s official media has said one Tibetan Buddhist monk was killed and 13 people injured when police fired on protesters carrying a banned Tibetan flag near the Jokhang Monastery in the city’s central square.
A West German tourist said Tuesday that he had seen the body of a child carried into a hospital near the square. He said a friend saw two children, lying dead in the market after the protest.
The West German, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said Tibetans told him seven people were killed but this could not be independently confirmed.
Chinese reports have not mentioned arrests but tourist contacted by telephone have reported witnessing some arrests and hearing reports of others. The arrests could also not be independently confirmed.
Tibetan independence activists seek the return of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, and an end to 38 years of Chinese communist rule. Saturday’s bloodshed marked the third time in 14 months that Chinese security forces and protesters have clashed.
At total of at least 38 people were killed in violent clashes with police on Oct. 1, 1987 and March 5.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Ms. Meindersma said she had been examined by a Swiss doctor and that he had written a letter to Chinese authorities urging them to let her leave the country for treatment in Hong Kong.
″The doctor said that if I don’t leave soon for Hong Kong for therapy there will be permanent damage to my arm and to my muscles,″ she said.