Free Tibet Campaign has received eyewitness accounts that Chinese armed police fired live ammunition into crowds of Tibetan protesters on April 5 in Daofu county, Sichuan province. The Times newspaper in Britain has also reported the same incident.
Free Tibet Campaign’s contact in Dharamsala spoke to an eyewitness to the shooting on April 5. The eyewitness gave the following account:
On April 5 monks at the Nyintso monastery in Tawu (Ch: Daofu) county, Khardze Prefecture in Sichuan province gathered for the annual Torgya ceremony when evil elements are believed to be exorcised from society. More than 1000 monks are resident at the monastery and, according to the eyewitness, between 700 and 800 laypeople also gathered for the ceremony.
News of the gathering reached the authorities who posted announcements, warning people in the area to stay indoors or they would be shot.
The monks and laypeople ignored the warning and gathered to observe the ceremony. The authorities then demanded that the ritual objects to be used for performing the ceremony should be put in a vehicle to be taken away. The monks refused to comply, despite a massive deployment of police. Laypeople also defied the authorities by gathering at the monastery.
At around noon on April 5 both monks and lay people left the monastery to observe the ceremony but were met by 400 armed police on the main road. The police stated that only the monks would be allowed to proceed with observing the ceremony which caused great anger amongst the lay people who shouted: “We don’t have freedom in our own land. We want complete freedom. The Dalai Lama must return to Tibet and the Chinese should return to China. Tibet and China should be separate countries”.
According to the eyewitness, as the shouting got louder the armed police fired live rounds into the crowd to disperse it. Ten Tibetans were wounded by the bullets and five of the wounded were arrested.
Three of the wounded were named as: Dhondup, from Yeshi village; Gyaltsen, from Bubho village; Tsewang Gyaltsen, from Panglong village.
After the shooting, the crowd re-gathered at the monastery. According to the eyewitness the protesters agreed to sacrifice their own lives if the authorities refused to release the five wounded Tibetans who had been arrested. Fearing massive demonstrations, the authorities released the five wounded Tibetans, but according to the eyewitness the county government hospital refused to treat the wounded Tibetans.
Monks from Nyintso monastery arranged funds for the wounded to be taken to a hospital elsewhere. The wounded were halted by the authorities, however, at Thartsedo on the evening of 6 April. It is still unclear whether any of the wounded have received medical attention, or whether any of them have died.
The shootings in Daofu county follow the deaths of eight Tibetans in a separate incident when Chinese armed police shot into a crowd of Tibetan protesters in Tongkor town, Khardze County, Sichuan province on 3 April.
Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said: “It is impossible to imagine how the Chinese government could show greater contempt for the true values of the Olympic Torch than with these shootings and killings. If the IOC is to retain a shred of credibility, it must insist at this week’s board meeting in Beijing that China’s right to parade the torch triumphantly in front of a cowed and repressed Tibetan population in June is withdrawn. China’s taking the torch through Tibet in a grotesque propaganda charade will only further inflame Tibetan feeling, sparking further protests and bloodshed as the Chinese authorities respond to the protests”