China Exclusive: Injured Muslims tell of Lhasa unrest

14:42, March 21, 2008

Lying in a hospital bed, Ma Xiaolong, a survivor from Friday's turmoil in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, groans in pain.

Even his family members were unable to recognize him as the 24-year-old was burnt and scarred around his face, chest and legs.

"Why did they do this to me and my family?" Ma asked, in tears.

A Muslim from the neighboring Gansu Province, the young man opened a restaurant with his family on Baijiao Street, one of the worst-hit areas in the riot.

"The streets became chaotic and I closed the restaurant at around 3 p.m. that day after coming back from doing services at the mosque in the street with my brother and sister-in-law."

Soon, while staying on the second-floor of the building, the family found their restaurant besieged by a dozen young men and women shouting and trying to break the restaurant door with rocks.

The mob finally broke through the metal shutter nearly one hour later and began to spray gasoline around and set fire to the building.

"We were hiding in the toilet upstairs, but we could hear big noises outside," Ma said. "My sister-in-law was so scared and began to cry. Her husband covered her mouth with his hand, asking her to shut up."

The toilet was soon no longer safe as flames engulfed the wooden door and the smoke penetrated in.

"We could barely breathe and had to get out."

With no other choice, they jumped off the building and fell onto the ground of the yard in the neighboring mosque. There, more than 50 Muslims were busy putting out fires.

"Firebrand and rocks were raining down. We hid in the mosque with many other Muslims."

The Ma family, suffering from burns and bone fractures, were sent to the General Hospital of Tibet Military Command on Friday evening.

Li Suizhi, the hospital president, told Xinhua they were all out of danger.

"People's lives are getting better and better here. I don't know why they (the rioters) still have made troubles like this," Ma said. "I don't have any plan for the future now, but luckily, I have my family with me."

Another family member was not that lucky.

Ma Shequn, a steamed bun shop owner, was treated for stab wounds in the hospital. His shop on Jire Road was nearby the looted Bargor Street, a famous shopping zone for tourists in the downtown Lhasa. His family hid themselves in the shop but soon several vandals broke in.

"They came to beat us directly and we didn't dare put up any resistance, only begging," he said. "I know some of them. They were nice people before."

Ma finally managed to run out of the shop into the street. That turned out to be more dangerous as he was chased by a dozen rioters with long knives in hand this time.

He survived and was later hospitalized with the help of a Tibetan family that sheltered him.

"I don't know what's going on with my family members as I have lost contact with them. No one has answered the phone in the shop."


Souirce: Xinhua

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