Tibetans in Tawu region of eastern Tibet offering prayers on the occasion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday on July 6, 2013. (Photo/TCHRD)
DHARAMSHALA, July 17: Even as communication channels in Tawu, the site of Chinese police firings on unarmed Tibetans earlier this month in eastern Tibet remain erratic, more details about the tragic incident and those injured have reached exile.
Hundreds of local Tibetans including monks from the Nyatso Monastery had assembled at the sacred Machen Pomra mountain on July 6 to offer prayers on the 78th birthday of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Chinese armed police stopped Tibetans from conducting prayers at Machen Pomra following which the local Tibetans moved to another nearby venue and held prayers and made offerings in front of a portrait
of the Dalai Lama.
Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which has been keeping a close watch on the incident, today confirmed that Chinese armed police detained 18 Tibetans from a bridge on the foothills of the mountain.
“Out of them, 14 have sustained gunshot wounds and are receiving treatment,” the group said. “There is no death reported yet although the
injured are not out of danger.”
TCHRD identified a few more injured Tibetans, including Yama Tsering, 72, who was “severely beaten and got four of his ribs broken.”
Dekyi Gonpo aka Goleb has reportedly become deaf in one ear due to the beatings while Ngawang, a former administrative staff at Nyatso
Monastery, layman Tamka Choeden, and school student Palden Wangmo have been injured in police beatings.
Tashi Sonam, a monk and teacher at Nyatso Monastery, was shot in his head while Ugyen Tashi, a layman, received eight bullet shots. Both of them are reported to be in critical condition and are undergoing treatment.
Gyaltsen, a Tibetan environmental activist, was also severely beaten and two of his ribs were broken and Tsewang Choephel, a senior monk and administrative staff at Nyatso Monastery was shot at multiple times on his hands and legs and remains in critical condition.
Citing local sources in Tawu, TCHRD said that the armed police provoked the bloody confrontation by stoning and smashing the car windows of Nyatso monk Jangchup Dorjee, a brother of nun Palden Choetso who died of self-immolation protest on November 3, 2011.
“A dispute ensued between local Tibetans and armed police over the stoning, after which armed police came down to the bridge and confronted the Tibetans,” TCHRD said. “Attempts made by the abbots and other senior monks to settle the issue peacefully failed when Tsering Gonpo, a leader of the PAP contingent gave orders to shoot, beat and teargas the Tibetans.”
Later in the evening, over 3,000 local Tibetans reportedly gathered at the Nyatso Monastery and called for the immediate release of those detained earlier that day.
The protesters threatened the authorities with non-violent direct actions such as withdrawal of their children from Chinese government-run schools, boycotting farming, and blocking all traffic movement in Tawu if their demands were not met.
“Threatened by the specter of a county-wide movement, the Chinese authorities released the detained Tibetans at around midnight on July 7 after their detention at around 4 pm on July 6,” TCHRD said.
Nyatso Monastery has borne all treatment related expenses of those injured and didn’t accept financial help from the Chinese government in keeping with the wishes of the local people.
TCHRD further added that earlier reports of Chinese PAP officers kowtowing and apologising for their actions in front of local Tibetans could not be corroborated.