by Sherab Woeser
DHARAMSHALA, January 24: In news just in, at least five Tibetans have died in police firings in Serthar, eastern Tibet today.
The incidence occurred earlier today when a large crowd of Tibetans gathered in the central town of Serthar and started raising slogans calling for Tibet’s independence.
Sources in exile with contacts in the region say that over 600 Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene of the protests and began firing indiscriminately at the crowd.
Speaking to Dharamshala based radio service VoT, an unnamed Tibetan said that five Tibetans were confirmed dead with over 40 Tibetans carrying serious injuries.
“The Chinese security personnel began to fire indiscriminately at the crowd of Tibetans demonstrating against the Chinese government in the central town of Serthar,” the Tibetan said.
Beijing based Tibetan writer, Woeser has also independently confirmed that five Tibetans were killed in the protests today. Woeser identified one of the dead as Bobo, a Tibetan man in his mid-thirties.
Sources say the whole of Serthar is under virtual martial law with large numbers of Chinese security personnel maintaining a strict surveillance all over the town.
All the shops and restaurants and public amenities in the region have been forced to shut down.
There is fear that the number of casualties will rise as injured Tibetans have been left with no access to medical treatment.
The protests in Serthar come a day after massive protests were reported from neighbouring Drango county yesterday. Earlier reports had indicated that one Tibetan was shot dead by Chinese security personnel in Drango but now reports are confirming the death of six Tibetans in yesterday’s firings.
Last week, hundreds of Tibetans had come out on the streets of Serthar in an act of defiance against Chinese rule, carrying photos of the Dalai Lama and calling for Tibet's independence.
The de facto Tibetan Prime Minister Dr Lobsang Sangay today urged the international community to intervene to prevent further bloodshed in Tibet.
“Silence from the world community sends a clear message to China that its repressive and violent measures to handle tensions in Tibetan areas are acceptable,” Dr Sangay said.
“As a nation aspiring to become a world economic and political power, the People’s Republic of China cannot be permitted to behave in such immoral and violent manner”.
In the past 11 months, 16 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
At least a dozen Tibetans have died in the past few weeks alone in police firings on peaceful demonstrators in Tibet.