Footage of protests that emerged from the region showed crowds of both native Tibetans and Han Chinese migrants demonstrating on the streets of the capital to protest a lockdown that has lasted for nearly three months in accordance with China’s zero-Covid policy.
The strict lockdown began in August when Covid cases began soaring across China.
Wednesday’s demonstrations were believed to be the first large-scale protests in the city since the anti-government uprising in 2008. Tibet has been under tight surveillance after the last protests.
One video showed hundreds of people gathered on a narrow street, while officials in protective gear blocked them. Migrant Han Chinese workers marched through the streets demanding to be allowed to return home.
Police officers can be seen asking people to return as a message calling for calm plays on a loudspeaker. “Everybody please understand our work, go home and do not crowd this area,” an official can be heard shouting on a loudspeaker.
Another video showed a night-time confrontation between a large crowd of residents and police in one of the housing communities in the capital.
“People have been locked down for too long, the psychological pressure is too much to bear with no income,” one man was heard saying in Mandarin, according to AFP.
“Many people in our community are also migrants who came here to work and earn money.”
Protesters warned Chinese officials they would “set off a fire” if restrictions were not lifted, sources told US State Department-funded news service Radio Free Asia. Locals said they were apprehensive of scuffles between civilians and police officers turning violent.
Officials in Lhasa last month reportedly apologised for mishandling the outbreak.
Authorities in Tibet’s second-largest city of Shigatse announced “normal living and production order” will resume from Friday.
Chinese citizens placed under tougher curbs had earlier taken to social media to share their distress over the Communist government’s Covid policy, which is aimed at curbing the spread of Covid at every flare-up.
China on Friday reported 1,337 new cases, including only one confirmed case with symptoms and five asymptomatic cases from Tibet.