WASHINGTON—The leader of a Tibetan monastery in western China has been shot dead after he and other monks demanded that local police pay for medical treatment they required after being beaten in custody.
According to two witnesses who asked not to be named, a Chinese police officer, identified by the surname of He, shot and killed the head monk from Golok Topden Monastery on Sept. 14. The monk was identified as She Tse, sources told RFA’s Tibetan service.
“The Khenpo [abbott] She Tse went to police, but in the tension the police officer shot She Tse and killed him...Several others are injured.”
The shooting is said to have occurred at the Darlag (in Chinese, Dari) County police station after a group of monks including She Tse went there to demand compensation for medical expenses they incurred as a result of being beaten in custody, the sources said.
Golok Topden Monastery is located in a traditionally Tibetan area under the administration of China’s western Qinghai Province.
“They went back to the police station and demanded compensation for medical expenses since the monks had to go to hospital for treatment,” one witness said. “The Khenpo [abbott] She Tse went to police, but in the tension the police officer shot She Tse and killed him,” the same witness said. “Several others are injured.”
Several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the shooting incident but declined to give details or say whether it was under investigation. Other sources reported that tensions in the area had calmed in recent days.
Earlier in September, a group of monks had been detained after an argument with the owner of a guest house who refused to let the monks back into a room where they had stayed to retrieve personal items they left behind, the witnesses said. The guest house owner summoned police, who detained the monks for two days during which they claimed they were beaten.
Golok Topden Monastery—located in Machen (in Chinese, Maqin) County on the border with Darlag County—has followers in several neighboring townships. Residents there were said to be planning protests against Chinese authorities, the sources said.
Police reinforcements have arrived from neighboring townships, and Tibetan civic and religious leaders have appealed for calm, they said. They also asked local people to cancel or postpone planned protests.