By Tenzin Dharpo
A youth lie unconscious on the ground during the scuffle (screengrab from the video)
DHARAMSHALA, July 21: A viral video of a Tibetan youth getting beaten up in Antwerp, Belgium, has prompted many in the Tibetan diaspora to express shock and condemnation over the incident. The brawl that took place in Antwerp in the early hours of Saturday following a farewell party of the 2019 Euro-Tibet football cup organized by RTYC Belgium, has left four people injured after altercations between a few youths who are residents of the city and of Paris.
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress President Sonam Tsering told Phayul
that four Tibetan youths were taken to hospital after Antwerp police and ambulance reached the spot. He said, “No one is in critical condition including the boy who was knocked unconscious in the video. They were treated for cuts, bruises and swellings.”
He added, “There are many falsehoods attached to the video. The boy who was unconscious is not in coma as described by many in social media. We urge restrain among users on social media to not spread rumors and falsehood which might escalate the incident.”
The incident happened around 6:30 am local time on the early morning of July 20 (Saturday) after the official party had concluded, according to Tsering who said that the celebrations of the otherwise successful football tournament is marred by the “unfortunate incident”.
Tsering further told Phayul that among the four injured, 1 youth is a player of Songtsen FC from Paris and two were players of ADFC from Antwerp. “This unfortunate incident was not a result of an on-the-ground disagreement between players. Songtsen FC and ADFC have not even played a single match against each other throughout the tournament. It is the actions of a few irresponsible youths,” he further said.
The police have detained a youth from Paris, France involved in the fight and later released him, according to sources. The Antwerp police have begun investigations into the matter.
The viral videos widely shared in social media sites and micro messaging apps have attracted condemnation and distress from Tibetans around the world. A Tibetan netizen wrote, “Such as disgrace to the Tibetan community” while another simply wrote, “You guys sadden our community”.
The 11th edition of the Euro-Tibet cup concluded on Friday after Yak Boyz United edged out Tibet-Züri in a thrilling 3-0 win. 19 teams including 7 teams from France, 5 from Belgium, 3 from Switzerland, 2 from Holland, 1 from Germany, and 1 from Austria participated in the tournament that was played in the course of 5 days.
European countries, primarily Switzerland, Belgium and France have a considerable Tibetan exile community. While there is no official data on the number of Tibetans, estimates from various sources put the number to be around 20,000.