Nearly 500 Tibetans in China’s Qinghai province took to the streets Tuesday to protest what they called police brutality, as tensions gripped neighboring Sichuan province, where one of two Tibetans who self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule a day earlier died, sources said.
Residents of Rebgong (Tongren, in Chinese) county in Qinghai province’s Malho prefecture marched on the local Public Security Bureau office to highlight an attack by police on Monday night on a group of Tibetans traveling by car.
Witnesses to the Monday assault described the Chinese police who attacked the Tibetans as “drunk,” local sources told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“On Aug. 13, local police, who appeared to be drunk, stopped four Tibetans traveling in their vehicle and harshly questioned them,” sources said.
“The harassment reached a point where the police and the Tibetans clashed, and the Tibetans were severely beaten.”
The Tibetans injured in the beating were identified as Kelsang, Konchog Nyima, Shawo Tsering, and Konchog Norbu, with Shawo Tsering described as the most badly hurt in the group.
It is not known if the men were also detained.
Early on Tuesday, area residents gathered in a village called Senge Shong to protest the beating, sources said.
The crowd then marched to Rebgong town with some carrying banners reading “The government police beat people” written in both Tibetan and Chinese.
“The police have secured themselves inside their building and don’t dare come out,” one source said.
Monk dies of burns
Tibetans protest in front of Rebgong county government buildings, Aug. 14, 2012. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener
The protests came a day after two Tibetans set themselves on fire Monday in protest against Chinese rule in Ngaba county in Sichuan, triggering clashes between local Tibetans and police that resulted in a Tibetan being beaten to death, sources said.
One of them, a Tibetan monk identified as Lungtok, 20, has died, exile sources said.
Lungtok, a monk from the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba, and Tashi, 21, an ex-monk from the same monastery, set themselves ablaze on Aug. 13 at about 6:50 p.m. local time to highlight their opposition to Beijing’s rule, sources said.
“On Aug. 14, it was learned that Lungtok died in Barkham [county] hospital,” said India-based Tibetan monks Lobsang Yeshi and Kanyag Tsering, citing sources in the region.
“It is not known whether his remains were handed over to family members,” they added.
It was also unclear whether Lungtok had died on Tuesday or the day before.
In their Monday protest, both men set themselves alight and walked, burning and shouting slogans, along the main street of Ngaba town before being overwhelmed and taken away by Chinese police, Yeshi and Tsering said.
Witnesses said there was little hope for their survival because of their severe burns, Yeshi and Tsering said.
Tashi, who taken with Lungtok to the Ngaba county hospital before both were moved to Barkham, was beaten as he burned, witnesses said.
There is no word yet on his condition.
Forty-nine Tibetans in total have self-immolated since the current wave of fiery protests began in February 2009, with nearly all of the protests taking place in Tibetan-populated provinces in western China.
Most of them protested against Chinese rule and called for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader who is living in exile in Dharamsala.
Last week, three Tibetans died in self-immolation protests — two in Ngaba and one in the southern part of Kanlho (Gannan, in Chinese) prefecture in Gansu province.
Tibetan groups say the wave of self-immolation protests will continue until the underlying human rights and other problems in the Tibetan-populated areas are addressed by the Chinese authorities.
Chinese authorities however have labeled the self-immolators as terrorists, outcasts, criminals, and mentally ill people and have blamed the Dalai Lama for encouraging the burnings.Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.