Washington, DC: We are deeply saddened and outraged to hear of the heartless shooting by Chinese soldiers of Tibetan refugees escaping to India through the Nangpa la Pass in the Himalayas on September 30. According to eyewitness accounts and press reports, Chinese border patrol soldiers opened fire on a group of 70 to 80 Tibetans escapees, killing as at least two, a 25-year old nun and a young child, and possibly as much as 8 people. The shooting victims are completely harmless and innocent Tibetans, whose only supposed crime was to brave the cold and treacherous mountain passes to reach India to escape the misery that is their life in Tibet has become. For the many children in the group, the only goal is to reach India to join a school and to learn Tibetan which they cannot do in Tibet.
We are holding a rally on Friday, October 20th, in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC to protest the shooting, to express our outrage and to shame China. We will be joined by other Tibetan groups from New York, New Jersey, Boston, and Charlotsville, and the Students for Free Tibet, the US Tibet Committee and the International Campaign for Tibet.
We call on the Department of State, concerned members of the Congress and the news media to take a serious note of this incident and condemn the Chinese government for what it really is: a cold-blooded, heartless murderer. Its plan to host the 2008 Olympics and economic achievements notwithstanding, the regime is Beijing is at heart a brutal oppressor that is willing to use brute force to deny people their rights and dignity. What can be more harmless than an 8-year old boy trying to escape through one of the coldest mountain passes in the world, at 19000 ft, hungry and cold with nothing to wear but bare clothing, after trekking many days on foot. To have ordered your soldiers shoot at them is unconscionable and shows China’s utter lack of regard for human life, especially that of a Tibetan life, to say nothing of human rights. The Foreign Ministry’s claim that the soldier fired in self-defense after the Tibetans attacked is a flat out lie, borne by subsequent release of video footage of the incident. The Chinese government should be deeply ashamed of this act. We hope it will have the sense to realize that mere hosting a glitzy Olympics cannot undo their moral bankruptcy.
This is not the first time such a shooting had happened, nor will it be the last. If not for the courage of the Western mountaineers who witnessed and photographed the incident, and decided to let the world know about it, this story may have died quietly. We are deeply concerned about the fate of the children who have been taken into custody, and of those who remain unaccounted for from the initial group of 70 to 80 people. The Chinese government should release the captured children to their parents immediately.
Capital Area Tibetan Association (CATA)
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