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Chinese border police open fire on Tibetans on Nangpa-La again
Phayul[Friday, October 26, 2007 19:53]
By Tenzin Choephel
Phayul Correspodent

Some of the escapees wait outside a Tibetan office in Kathmandu to register their names as per regulatory procedure (their facial identity are protected for safety measures)/Photo by Tenzin Choephel/Phayul
Some of the escapees wait outside a Tibetan office in Kathmandu to register their names as per regulatory procedure (their facial identity are protected for safety measures)/Photo by Tenzin Choephel/Phayul
Kathmandu, October 26: It is exactly a year after the infamous Nangpa La Shooting incidence, Chinese border People's Armed Police (PAP) shot three round of bullets on a group of 39 Tibetan Refugees again at Nangpala Pass on the Nepal-Tibet border on Ocotber 18 at about 11.30 AM China time.

Of the 39, 36 managed to escape the atrocity and safely reached Kathmandu. “The remaining three were arrested by the Chinese soldiers but, no one was injured,” an eye witness told Phayul in Kathmandu.

According to Dharamsala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), the details of the three arrested are: Ngawang Tsultrim, 21-year-old from Amdo Labrang, Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County, Kanlho " Autonomous Prefecture" ('TAP'); Lobsang Thaye, 33-year-old monk from Amdo Rebkong Monastery, Rebkong (Ch: Tongren) County, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) "TAP" and Tenzin Dorjee, 21-year-old from Kham Bawa, Lithang County, Kardze "TAP".

According to the eye witness, initially 46 Tibetans, mostly from Kham and Amdo Region of eastern Tibet, including a guide, left Lhasa on October 12. At least seven people, including a mother and a child could not keep pace with the group and were left behind to follow up. The remaining 39 people reached below the Nangpa La Pass on the morning of October 18 and were making their way and nearing the border Pass when five Chinese Soldiers spotted them and started chasing. Two soldiers shot three rounds of bullets as three soldiers chased the group.

The soldiers stopped firing after the three rounds of shots. Three monks, who were at the end of the trail, could not run and were arrested by the border soldiers. The border force continued the chase until the pillar at the Tibet-Nepal border on the Nangpa La Pass but, could not stop the 36 Tibetans, including the guide from crossing into the Nepalese territory.

The group continued their journey and took them 13 days to reach Kathmandu safely yesterday evening. Among them are three children. The youngest one is 11 years old.

The fate of the three arrested and the other people left behind could not be ascertained.

On September 30, 2006 75 Tibetan refugees, among them many young children, and their 2 guides were trying to enter Nepal illegally via the Himalayan Nangpala pass. The video footage, taken by a Romanian cameraman show Chinese Border Security soldiers opened fire on the group and killed Kelsang Namtso, a 17 year old nun, just before the pass. Kunsang Namgyal, a 23 year old man, was hit in the leg twice, then taken away by the Chinese border police and is believed to have died later. Only 41 survivors reached the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu, Nepal and finally arrived at their destination in Dharamsala, India.

Following the incident last year, which drew international condemnation against China, the Chinese authorities are said to have beefed up security measures and restrictions on the Nepalese frontier to check the Tibetan from escaping Tibet.

Following the full text of the TCHRD’s press release of the incidence

Press Release: TCHRD/Eng/PR/208/2007
Contact person: Tashi Choephel (English)
Jamphel Monlam (Tibetan and Chinese)
Phone Number: +91-1892-223363/225874/229225
Date: 26 October 2007

Nangpala Revisited- Shooting left nine Tibetans missing and three arrests

According to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a group of 46 Tibetans while attempting to flee Tibet via Nangpala Pass in October were shot by Chinese border People's Armed Police (PAP) resulting in the arrest of three Tibetans and missing of nine.

According to a TCHRD source in Katmandu, on 18 October 2007, a group of 46 Tibetans while escaping to Nepal via Nangpala Pass through Solukhumbu were shot by the Chinese Border PAP. The group while taking rest on the Nangpala Pass, after days of grueling walk over the high pass covered with freezing snow were shot several times by the Chinese Border PAP. Although nobody was shot dead at this time, but the firing live ammunitions on the group led the escaping people run for the cover leaving all their belongings behind in the snow. However, they were chased by the Chinese Border PAP, which resulted in arrest of three Tibetans and nine missing. The whereabouts and condition of nine people from the original group of 46 Tibetans still remain unknown. The details of three people arrested are:
a) Ngawang Tsultrim, 21-year-old from Amdo Labrang, Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe)
County, Kanlho " Autonomous Prefecture" ('TAP')
b) Lobsang Thaye, 33-year-old monk from Amdo Rebkong Monastery, Rebkong
(Ch: Tongren) County, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) "TAP"
c) Tenzin Dorjee, 21-year-old from Kham Bawa, Lithang County, Kardze "TAP"

Yesterday, the remaining fleeing Tibetans safely managed to reach Tibetan Reception Centre based in Katmandu, Nepal. As the winter approaches, the flow of Tibetans across the Himalayas into Nepal from Tibet is generally on the high (when there are less Chinese patrols in the area). There is a general consensus between the Nepalese government and the UNHCR that the Tibetans fleeing Tibet be handed over to the latter who in turn take Tibetan refugees under their protection. Amid high risk of being arrested Tibetans make the arduous journey into Nepal which acts as a transit for the hundreds of Tibetans entering India on a mission to get education in exile or be blessed with an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

After the Nangpala incident in September last year, the Chinese authorities beefed up security measures and restrictions on the Nepalese frontier to check the Tibetan escapees. The "TAR" Public Security Bureau (PSB) convened a special meeting in December 2006 calling for a strict monitor and vigilance on the 'fleeing individual' (Ch: toudu) and called for the launch of 'Strike Hard' Campaign beginning January 2007 for six months. According to the official Chinese mouthpiece, Xinhua, dated 4 June 2007, it was reported that a video conference was convened by the "TAR" Head PSB department among various Prefecture PSB departments on 5 May 2007 in Lhasa City to review the overall result of the "Strike Hard" campaign, which was launched on the border areas through which most of the Tibetan refugees escape. The individual officers and concerned departments successful in cracking down were rewarded with accolades, it was reported. Last year on a bright sunny morning of 30 September, the world has yet seen another bloody killing of an innocent Tibetan crossing the border to seek freedom in exile. As 75 refugees were preparing to cross the glaciated Nangpala, an 18,753 ft. pass close to Everest base camp, the Chinese Border PAP fired live ammunitions on a group of Tibetan refugees killing Kelsang Namtso, a 17 years old from Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture "Tibet Autonomous Region" ('TAR') and Kunsang Namgyal, a 20 year old from Kardze was hit by bullets on his leg. He could not escape and along with him 32 other Tibetans including 14 minor boys were arrested by soldiers and taken to Shigatse Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centre. The youngest was eight years old. Out of 75 people, 41 (27 minors below eighteen years) managed to reach Kathmandu, Nepal, where they were kept under the protection of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Under immense international pressure and extensive coverage on the shooting unarmed Tibetans by the Chinese border PAP, the Chinese Foreign Ministry paradoxically referred the shooting as a defensive measures carried on by the border forces. The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that several Tibetans had been injured in a border incident, but denied anyone was killed as a result of gunfire. The authorities claim one of the injured succumbed to 'oxygen shortage’ in hospital. The official news agency, Xinhua, stated that when asked to turn back, Tibetan refugees 'refused and attacked the soldiers' so '[t]he frontier soldiers were forced to defend themselves and injured two [refugees].' The Foreign Ministry agreed with the claim that any violence on the part of the PAP was in self-defense. This was one of the incidents happened and rarely witnessed by the foreign mountaineers.

However, in light of testimonies by the refugees, the foreign eyewitnesses and confirmed by video there is hardly anything left for Chinese to duck the responsibility for killing innocent Tibetan. Jamyang Samten, a teenage youth who made successful second attempt upon reaching Dharamsala told TCHRD that, "the older teenagers and adults were severely beaten, and some children who were not immediately collected by their parents were detained for more than three months".

TCHRD is gravely concerned about the fate of three arrested Tibetans and other nine who are still missing in midst of tension following gunshot by the Chinese Border PAP. The government of the PRC should ensure that they are not subjected to ill treatment and torture which are common features in Chinese administered detention centres and prisons in Tibet. The actions of the PAP violate a number of international and national laws. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides 'everyone the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution'. The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees also accords legitimate refugees with the same human rights as those enjoyed by nationals.

TCHRD calls upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Loiuse Arbour, and the Human Rights Council to seek intervention in the securing their early release from Chinese custody without harm. TCHRD also calls upon the authorities of the People's Republic of China(PRC) to ensure that Tibetans are able to peacefully exercise their fundamental human rights without fear of harassment, intimidation or arbitrary detention, in line with international human rights standards. The Centre will continue to monitor situation and will update on any development as and when we receive.

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