Tibetan Youths Sought After Blast

Chinese authorities in Tibet arrest one youth and search for two others after a blast in September.

TibetMap052808-305.png Map of Tibet Autonomous Region, showing prefectures and site of alleged blasts.
Graphic: RFA

KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities in Tibet have arrested one Tibetan youth and are searching for two others, both in hiding, in connection with a blast at a local power station, according to Chinese and Tibetan sources.

“Those culprits have been hiding out somewhere for a little over a month and 20 days,” a Public Security Bureau (PSB) officer in Markham county, Chamdo [in Chinese, Changdu], said in an interview.

“We caught one. There is no way to escape from us. If the other two culprits surrender on their own, China’s legal system might show leniency,” the PSB officer said.

Chamdo is located in China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

Several authoritative Tibetan sources said the three youths are wanted in connection with an explosion Sept. 8 at a local power station. The blast blacked out television programming for four days but caused no casualties.

We caught one. There is no way to escape from us."

PSB officer

The sources, who asked not to be named, cited resentment among Tibetans over television programming in the Kham dialect in August and September that condemned Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as a “splittist” committed to dismantling China.

The three youths suspected of causing the blast are Ngawang Tenzin, 20, Tenzin Norbu, 19, and Tenzin Rinchen, 17, the sources said.

All three fled the area, and on Oct. 24, police found Tenzin Rinchen in a nearby area, shooting him in the leg and arresting him, the sources said.

On Oct. 26, Dechen Dorje, 49, the father of Ngawang Tenzin, was detained and questioned, one source said. He remains in detention. Lobsang Tenzin, 26, Tenzin Norbu’s older brother, was also detained Oct. 19 while ploughing a field, the source said.

He refused to talk under questioning and was unable to move his hands or feet when he was released on Oct. 27, the source said.

Previous blasts

On Sept. 23, the Chamdo Intermediate People's Court sentenced four monks to jail terms of four to nine years for "terrorist actions" in connection with a series of small blasts during massive anti-China protests in the region earlier this year.

The mostly teenage monks were among dozens who were detained in Markham county on or around May 14 and were charged with "obstructing the Olympics" and "damaging national stability."

All the monks are believed to have been from Markham county's Oser monastery or one of its branches. Tibetan sources in the region reported eight separate explosions in the Markham area during the Tibetan protests early this year. No one was hurt in the blasts.

Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans after protests and riots that began in Lhasa in mid-March and spread to other Tibetan areas.

Beijing says 22 people were killed in the rioting. Tibetan exiles say at least 140 people died in the region-wide crackdown that followed, while more than 1,000 were detained.

Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama, for instigating the protests and fomenting what they regard as a “splittist” Tibetan independence movement. The Dalai Lama rejects the accusation, saying he wants only autonomy and human rights for Tibetans.

Original reporting in the Kham dialect by Lobsang Choephel for RFA's Tibetan service.Translated by Karma Dorjee.Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo.Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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