Monk Tashi Sonam of Nyatso monastery being treated for a bullet wound to his head after Chinese security forces opened live fire on Tibetans gathered to offer prayers on the 78th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tawu region of eastern Tibet on July 6, 2013.
DHARAMSHALA, July 8: A Tibetan monk is in critical condition and several others, including a brother of a self-immolator, have been severely injured after Chinese security forces opened fire and used tear gas to disperse a crowd gathered to mark the 78th birthday of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tawu region of eastern Tibet.
The incident occurred when hundreds of Tibetans from Tawu joined monks from the Nyatso Monastery and nuns from the Geden Choeling Nunnery on the morning of July 6 to offer prayers to mark the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama at a nearby hill used for making and prayer offerings.
China considers the exiled Tibetan leader as a “splittist” and continues to enforce bans on his photos and on any public display of support or reverence to him.
People's Armed Police stopping Tibetans from proceeding towards a local prayer site in Tawu region of eastern Tibet on July 6, 2013.
According to Tawu Lobsang Jinpa, a former Tibetan political prisoner living in Dharamshala, a convoy of Chinese People’s Armed Police arrived at the site and immediately surrounded the area, baring the gathered Tibetans from offering prayers.
As the face-off continued, Jangchup Dorjee, a monk from the Nyatso Monastery and younger brother of Palden Choetso
, a nun from Geden Choeling nunnery who self-immolated on November 3, 2011, tried to drive past the security blockade.
Chinese security forces retaliated by firing upon the unarmed crowd, critically injuring a monk Tashi Sonam from Nyatso Monastery, who was shot in the head. He is currently believed to be in a critical condition in a hospital in Chengdu.
Tear gases were also fired on the gathered crowd injuring several Tibetans.
Nyendak showing bullet wound to his leg after Chinese security forces opened live fire on Tibetans gathered to offer prayers on the 78th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tawu region of eastern Tibet on July 6, 2013.
Others who were severely injured in the live fire include Jangchup Dorjee and Tsering Dhonudp from Nyatso Monastery, Nyendak from Dukya town, Tashi and a nun from Geden Choeling Nunnery.
According to the same source, the injured are in “serious condition” and some of them have been taken to the district hospital where they are receiving medical treatment.
“The situation remains tense. Large numbers of armed police have been deployed surrounding the Nyatso Monastery where no one is allowed to either enter or leave the premises,” Jinpa said.
The use of lethal force on unarmed Tibetans follows weeks of speculations on whether China is contemplating a softening of its hard line stance on the Dalai Lama. Recent reports had indicated that Chinese authorities in isolated regions in Tibet had given permission for the public display photos of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. However, Beijing promptly denied any change in its policy and announced that the ban on photos of the Dalai Lama was still in place.
“The fact that Tibetans in Tawu were open fired and stopped from celebrating His Holiness’s birthday not only highlights the lack of freedom in Tibet but clearly discards the recent report on the change in China’s policy allowing Tibetans in Tibet to openly revere His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” said Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director of Students for a Free Tibet, India.
“Till date three Tibetans in Tawu have self-immolated, the recent being nun Wangchen Dolma
thus resulting in 119 Tibetans in Tibet who have self-immolated calling for the return of His Holiness and freedom in Tibet. Situation in Tibet continues to remain grim. It is high time that the world Government must come together and take multilateral action on China.”Article updated on Monday July 8, 2013 at 10:41 am IST