Beijing's Deadline Passes for Tibet Protesters A midnight deadline for protesters in Tibet to turn themselves over to Chinese authorities passed on Monday as residents of Lhasa braced for house-to-house searches by police following a violent crackdown that left 16 people dead, according to official figures.
NPR logo Beijing's Deadline Passes for Tibet Protesters

Beijing's Deadline Passes for Tibet Protesters

Gordon Fairclough of 'The Wall Street Journal'

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Tibetan protesters in exile hold a candlelight vigil as part of an anti-China demonstration at the Swayambhu Nath temple in Kathmandu. Around 200 Tibetan exiles held a vigil in Nepal's capital to show support for protesters in Chinese-controlled Tibet. At least 59 Tibetan exiles shouting "Free Tibet" were detained in the Nepalese capital after police broke up two protests outside a U.N. complex, using sticks and tear gas. Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

A midnight deadline for protesters in Tibet to turn themselves over to Chinese authorities passed on Monday as residents of the capital, Lhasa, braced for house-to-house searches by police following a violent crackdown that left 16 people dead, according to official figures.

Earlier Monday, the Beijing-appointed governor of Tibet promised leniency to demonstrators who voluntarily surrender and harsh consequences for those who don't.

"If these people turn themselves in, they will be treated with leniency within the framework of the law," said Champa Phuntsok, the China-appointed governor of Tibet. Otherwise "we will deal with them harshly," he added.

China also lashed out at Tibetan supporters of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader-in-exile, for allegedly attacking its embassies around the world. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters that China would not flinch in the face of the demonstrations.

"I'd like to reiterate that the Chinese government will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Liu said in the central government's first comment on the crisis.

"Tibetan independence forces used violent acts to break through police cordons in foreign countries and break into Chinese embassies and consulates," Liu said, calling on international governments to increase security of its missions.

The protesters launched demonstrations last week to press their demand for independence for the territory, which was forcibly annexed by China in 1951. They were the fiercest anti-China protests in nearly two decades.

The Chinese government has acknowledged that 16 people have been killed in the Lhasa demonstrations and crackdown. Some Tibetan exile groups claim 80 deaths. Sympathy protests have spread to three provinces bordering Tibet. Chinese troops have fanned out to break them up.

Some Tibetan protest leaders on Monday expressed disappointment that the Dalai Lama, has taken a conciliatory approach to Beijing in the wake of days of anti-China riots.

In Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama set up a government-in-exile when he and thousands of followers fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising, Tsewang Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, said "the middle way has been in existence for 20 years and nothing has come out of it."

Samdhong Rimpoche, the exiled government's prime minister, said the government felt helpless as more reports of deaths came in from Tibet, along with unconfirmed reports that Chinese hospitals were turning away injured Tibetans.

By night, hundreds of Tibetans in Dharamsala have been holding candlelight rallies in streets and monasteries.

From NPR and wire reports.