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Alleged Arsonists Arrested
27 March 2008 | By Ren Ke | From China Features

2008/03/27

Five alleged arsonists including three girls involved in two arson cases, which claimed ten lives in 3.14 riot have been arrested, according to the Lhasa Municipal People's Procuratorate.

All five of the suspects had confessed to the crimes after initial investigations. Two of them were detained for an arson attack on a motorcycle shop on March 15 in Dagze county, which killed five, including an eight-month-old infant and his parents.

And the three women were detained for setting fire to the Yin Shion clothing store on Beijing Middle Road in downtown Lhasa on March 14, said the procuratorate.

The three women suspects are Qime Lhazom, 20, Ben'gyi, 21, and the another one also named Ben'gyi is 23.

In the 3.14 riot, the three women rushed to the Yin Shion clothing store at about 2:30 p.m on March 14 and set fire to its remaining stock, after it had earlier been looted by mobs.

The fire killed Chen Jia, 18, a sales assistant of the shop, and other four salesladies who were hiding in the shop.

"I don't know why those mobs killed my daughter. They should be punished severely," Chen Jia's father Chen Jun said.

The last time the 43-year-old father heard anything from her daughter alive was a SMS his daughter texted him.

The SMS says, "Mobs are killing people around my shop. We dare not to go out. We cannot get out. Don't worry about me. Tell mum and my sister not to go out." At 15:42, March 14, Chen Jun received this SMS while working on a construction site in the west suburb of Lhasa.

Unfortunately, it becomes his daughter's farewell message. Minutes later, Chen Jia was burned to death in the shop.

The 23-year-old Tibetan girl Zhoi'ma is the only one who escaped from the fire. She grabbled out from the rolling gate before being suffocated in the fire set by rioters.

"I thought they ran out with me. I should have looked back at that time. However, I was too scared," said Zhoi'ma.

She recalled that at 2 p.m., Tang Qingyan, the owner of the store called them to close the shop as soon as possible as the riot broke. At that time 14 sales assistants were in the shop. Half hour passed, but the situation did not improve. Assistants decided to go home. Eight assistants were picked up by their families, while Zhoi'ma and other five girls could not go home which were all in the most hit areas.

"I heard the voices of crying and smashing outside. We hold together, trembling." Zhoi'ma said. Yang Dongmei, 24, was the oldest among them, who comforted that mobs could not break in because the door is made of steel.

Several minutes later, however, the mobs broke in. The six girls rushed to the attic on the second floor. Zhoi'ma heard that many mobs, men and women, smashing things while talking loudly. But she could not understand what they were talking, as they did not speak Lhasa dialect of Tibetan.

Five minutes later, the downstairs returned to silence. At that time, one suspect named Ben'gyi, used a lighter to ignite jeans, another Ben'gyi set fire to other clothes and inflammable subjects. And 20-year-old Qime Lhazom threw clothes to the fire, according to the procuratorate.

Zhoi'ma wanted go down to see what was happening. "Do not do that, or you will be killed!" shouted the 21-year-old Cering Zhoigar. Taking a glance to the downstairs, Zhoi'ma was scared. Fire was burning.

"Go! They set fires!" Shouted Zhoi'ma. She kept running outside. Zhoi'ma heard the voices of the wood stairs, so that she thought girls were following her, Zhoi'ma could not see anything. Zhoi'ma shouted that they have the chance of living only if running out. She ran out from the gap at the bottom of the rolling door.

"It seemed that they were following me, as I heard some noises, so I kept running," said Zhoi'ma. She saw many shops burning, and mobs beating and killing people. "I saw a woman laying at the mouth of the road, with blood on her face. I will never forget the horrific scene."

When she hided into a court on the South Niangre Road, she found her five colleagues did not follow her. She thought they ran to other directions. After a while, the boss Tang called her, saying that she couldn't get in touch with the other five girls through phones. In the evening, Zhoi'ma was informed that they were all burned to death.

"I hate those mobs. I want to ask them (the arsonists) why they killed my friends as we have no hatred," said Zhoi'ma.

The suspected arsonists got caught respectively on March 20th in Nynmo county and other areas, according to the Lhasa Municipal People's Procuratorate

When the fire was put out, Tang opened the last iron fence of the back door at around 6 p.m. What she saw made her cry her eyes out. Five girls were sitting and lying around a bed, and her younger cousins, Yang Dongmei was still holding Cering Zhoigar's leg. There faces were all burned black, with black smoke in their noses. Their bodies were all hard. When being touched, skins and fell from bodies.

"They were all kind-hearted and vivacious girls. We treated each other as family members." Said Tang. She is from the neighboring Qinghai Province. Her two Yin Shion clothing stores in Lhasa were damaged in the riot, causing her 1.8 million yuan (260,000 U.S. dollars) worth of loss.

Tang said Yang Dongmei found a boyfriend not long ago and planned to marry him this year. While Cering Zhoigar was a clever Tibetan girl he appreciates.

"I do not understand why there are such brutal mobs in a peaceful period," said Tang.

Cering Zhoigar's brother, Damzhin said, she was the most clever and attractive girl in the family of 13. Zhoigar gave the family most of her 1,000-yuan wages very month.

"Why did they do this to her?" said Damzhin.

Chen Jia's father Chen Jun murmured time and time again. "Jiajia, I wish you a good journey to heaven." He thanked the people coming to mourn his daughter, saying that true love still exist in the world.



 

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