Nearly 70 Tibetans have been taken into custody by Chinese security forces in Qinghai province, with all but three later released, following clashes with officials who had attempted to force villagers to vote for state-backed candidates in local elections, sources said.
The incident in Kyangchu village in the Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Gade (Gande) county occurred last month after local Chinese authorities “insisted that two of their own nominees should be elected,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“However, the local Tibetans, who knew the two Chinese-backed candidates, did not elect them,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the Dec. 15 incident.
“Instead, they voted for a Tibetan called Samdrak, a member of a Tibetan grassroots organization called the People’s Benefit Association, who has a good track record of serving the local people,” he said.
Angered by this defiance of their orders, the Chinese officials hurled threats and verbal abuse at the gathering, RFA’s source said, adding that villagers then threatened to take the issue to higher authorities in the prefecture.
“But an armed police force suddenly arrived and surrounded the local people, among whom nearly 70 were detained,” he said.
News of the incident, which followed a similar clash over elections elsewhere in Golog earlier in the month, was delayed due to communications blocks imposed by Chinese authorities in the area.
Three face charges
Forty of those who were detained were released after signing a document disavowing the People’s Benefit Association, whose members “have a good reputation among the locals,” RFA’s source said.
“About 20 others were then held for a further 10 to 20 days at the township court and in various government buildings before being released,” he said.
Three of those held—Tenpa Gyal, Nyatri, and Samdrak, the Tibetans’ preferred candidate—are still in custody, though, RFA’s source said.
“It has been announced that charges will be brought against them, and their families have not even been allowed to bring them food,” he said, adding, “The local Tibetans are in great distress at this Chinese show of force and at their own lack of recourse to justice and to fair elections.”
“If this kind of heavy-handed dealing by the Chinese continues, the lives of local Tibetans will prove to be very difficult,” he said.
Meanwhile, a young Tibetan named Karmey was beaten to death on Dec. 7 by police in Golog’s Darlag (Dari) county following clashes after county officials ordered villagers to vote for a government-backed candidate in local elections, sources said.
Karmey’s body was returned to family members the next day with a “compensation” payment of 10,000 yuan (U.S. $1,607), a local source told RFA.
“However, it was agreed that the incident would not be publicized,” he said.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.