By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, May 29: Two Tibetan brothers involved in last year’s protests against Chinese rule in Tibet have reached Dharamsala, putting the total number of escapees from last year’s anti-China unrest in recent weeks at nine.
Tsewang Dhondup shows his wounded arms during a press conference in Dharamsala, Thursday, May 28, 2009. He said he was shot twice by Chinese police during an anti-China protest in Kardze, Sichuan Province, last year. (Photo by Dhonyoe)
Tsewang Dhondup, 38, and Lobsang Thupten, 31, from Tehor, in Dagko (Ch: Luhuo
) County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi
) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, arrived here this week.
The two brothers joined hundreds of other protesters in a massive protest march against Chinese authorities in Dragko County on 24 March, 2008, which they said was led by nuns from the Ngangong Nunnery and monks from Palden Chokri Monastery.
The “peaceful protest
” march ended with deadly shootings by the armed Chinese police, reportedly leaving at least two men dead and more than ten severely wounded.
Tsewang, who also suffered two serious gun shots while trying to help a 20-year old monk named Kunga from Chokri Monastery hit by a bullet, says the the actual casualties from the incident could be even much higher.
During the protest, the two newly arrived refugees said, the marchers chanted “Long live the Dalai Lama,” “Tibet Belongs to Tibetans,” “China Quit Tibet” and “Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.”
“Around 4:30 pm on March 24, a massive protest demonstration led by around 150 nuns from Ngangong Nunnery broke out in Dragko. Several more monks from Palden Chokri and hundreds of lay people, mainly farmers later joined the march,” Tsewang explains.
“Later over 300 armed Chinese police indiscriminately opened fire on the demonstrators, shelled tear gas and used electric prods and iron batons to quell the protest,” he said. “These Chinese forces showed no sign of restraint, not even a patch of sympathy in reacting violently to Tibetan people.”
“While trying to save Kunga’s life, I was also shot twice, one in the back piercing through to the front part little above my waist and another on my left arm leaving me almost unconscious,” Tsewang explains as he showed around the badly injured marks on his body to reporters during a press conference held here yesterday.
It was his brother Thupten who saw him hit by bullets and lying almost unconscious on the ground. Thupten says he quickly managed to take his brother on his motorbike to a safety. He said Kunga, whom he describes as a 20 year-old monk from Chokri Monastery and son of Tashi Gyaltsen, was already dead from the bullet hit.
Since then Tsewang says he struggled between life and death while managing to avoid arrest for almost a year and three months.
“It was my brother who took care of me all the time as we kept ourselves constantly on the run all the time from fear of being arrested,” Tsewang recounts.
“We even spent around six months with a family. We could not go back to our hometown as our names appeared in the Chinese government’s wanted list that carried a bounty between 15 and 20,000 Yuan on each of our head.”
“It has been a struggle between life and death for me. Unable to get proper medical help, the bullet wounds started to rot with maggots and pus causing unbearably acute pain.
“My health was getting bad to worse that at times I was even pushed to the edge of ending my own life.
“But then hope and determination to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the urge to tell the outside world about the sufferings of the Tibetan people under Chinese oppression made me stronger,” Tsewang says.
Lobsang Thupten (left) looks on as his brother Tsewang speaks during a press conference in Dharamsala on Thursday. The two avoided arrests by Chinese police for more than a year before escaping to India via Nepal.
“Along the way we were generously supported by families. Above all I am now eternally indebted to my brother Thupten,” Tsewang says.“Help Dalai Lama return to Tibet”
Asked by a visiting U.S. student on what could be done by Afro-American community for Tibet during the press conference, Tsewang appealed for a “thorough research” to verify the truths about the issue of Tibet.
“I urge international community to support Tibet on the basis of truth and not be swayed by the one-sided information propagated by China’s powerful propaganda machinery within China and around the world,” Tsewang said.
“I want to urge international community to help His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to his homeland, Tibet. And also you can help release all the Tibetan political prisoners and the Panchen Lama, the one rightfully recognised by the Dalai Lama.”
“Media people must be courageous enough to go deep into Tibetan villages and remote areas to independently assess the real situation of Tibet under Chinese rule. They must hear the real voices of Tibet that are effectively suppressed by Chinese government,” Tsewang insists.
“The degree of violence displayed by Chinese forces on us last year further testified to our long held notion that China has no respect and concern for the life and welfare of Tibetan people,” Tsewang disdainfully utters.
“I cannot even imagine how they (Chinese) managed to inflict so much violence on peaceful Tibetan protesters last year. After what they did in Tibet last year, I can only imagine the amount of resentment Tibetans hold against the Chinese government now,” he says.
The two brothers say they left Tibet with a “conviction and hope” to help alleviate the suffering of Tibetans in Tibet.
At the press conference, Tsewang and Thupten were joined by Tsering Gyurmey and Gonpo, who also took part in similar protest
in Kardze last year and managed to arrive in India sometime last week.