Police Assault Tibetan Picnickers in Sichuan’s Draggo County

Villagers enjoying an outing 'on their own land' are searched and attacked without explanation, sources say.

A map showing the location of Draggo county in China's Sichuan province.

Police in southwestern China’s Sichuan province attacked a group of Tibetan villagers without explanation at the weekend, injuring ten and sending several, including an elderly man, to the hospital, Tibetan sources said.

The Aug. 25 assault was launched against a group of Tibetans from Gorum village in Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county’s Tsogo town who were enjoying a picnic “on their own land,” a Tibetan living exile told RFA, citing sources in the region.

“Suddenly, a group of about 30 police officers arrived and surrounded the Tibetans for no apparent reason,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition he not be named.

“They searched the Tibetans and forced them to stand in a line after putting their belongings on the ground,” he said.

When the Tibetan village head, who was present at the scene, called town and county officials to complain of the harassment, two policemen beat him and took him into custody, and a county official who had led police to the site then ordered his officers to attack the rest of the group, the source said.

In the beating that followed, ten Tibetans were injured, “with one elderly man of about 70 so badly hurt that he had to be rushed to Chengdu city for emergency attention and care,” the source said, adding that others who were injured—including one with a broken rib—were taken to local hospitals.

Explanation demanded

Following the assault, local Tibetans demanded an explanation from county authorities, saying that innocent Tibetans had been attacked for no reason, and that the role of the police should be only to “protect the local community in accordance with the laws of the land,” the source said.

Copies of the appeal were also sent to authorities in Sichuan province and the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, he said.

No word of a response from officials was immediately available.

Chinese security forces swarmed Draggo in large numbers three years ago in an apparent attempt to prevent county residents from observing the anniversary of a violent crackdown on Tibetan protesters in January 2012.

Two Tibetans were killed, and at least 30 injured, in the incident in which armed police fired at random into a crowd, sources said in earlier reports.

Shopkeepers in the county were later ordered by authorities to hand over all stocks of photos of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, with “severe punishment” threatened for those who failed to comply.

Reported by Sangye Dorjee for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.