Tibetan Protester Escapes to India

A Tibetan wanted for his role in anti-China protests finds safe haven after years of evasion.

ganzi-tibet-305.jpg Chinese soldiers patrol a street in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, March 23, 2008.

A Tibetan man sought by Chinese police for more than two years for taking part in protests against Chinese rule has evaded his pursuers and crossed safely into India.

Namsa Wangden, originally from Shusor town in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] county in China’s western Sichuan province, arrived with his wife and daughter in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala during the third week of November.

The family had earlier crossed from Tibet into Nepal, Wangden told an RFA reporter.

“We arrived safely at the [refugee] reception center in Kathmandu in early November. We were still worried about the actions of the Nepalese police, though, and came to Dharamsala in India as soon as possible,” he said.

Nepal has developed close ties with China in recent years and restricts the movements and activities of Tibetan refugees in the country, sometimes forcibly returning them to China when they attempt to cross the border.

Heightened security

Wangden, who with his family crossed into Nepal in a group of six, described heightened security in the area through which they passed.

“The number of Chinese border patrols had increased, and we found it very difficult to escape detection,” he said.

“I had crossed once before into Nepal, when it was easy, but this was a different story. Several barracks had been constructed at the border for the Chinese soldiers who watch the area, and cameras had been set up.”

The group successfully passed through the camps on their third attempt, Wangden said.

“We heard that a group of eight tried to cross after us, but were spotted and detained.”

Hiding in the forest

Wangden had joined in a protest in Kardze two years before, he said, calling with other Tibetans for greater freedom and for the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who had escaped into exile in India in 1959 following a failed national uprising against Chinese rule.

“When Chinese forces arrived, they used iron bars and clubs, and finally fired on us,” Wangden said.

“A friend shouted that we should run, but he could not escape, and he was detained along with 12 other Tibetans.”

“I escaped into the forest and traveled toward Nyagrong,” a neighboring county, he said. “I stayed in the Nyagrong forest for about four months and spent many days without food. I then joined a group of Tibetan nomads who were living in the area.”

Reaching the Tibetan capital Lhasa with the help of a friend, and joined by his family, Wangden then decided to cross into Nepal, traveling with his wife and daughter and others by the route he had used once before.

“I have been running for almost three years,” he said.

Violence in 2008

Many Tibetans have chafed for years under Chinese rule, which they say has eroded their national culture and curbed their freedom to practice Buddhism.

Rioting rocked Lhasa in March 2008 and protests spread to Tibetan-populated regions of western China, causing official embarrassment ahead of the August 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile estimates that at least 220 Tibetans were killed, with another 7,000 detained, in the subsequent region-wide crackdown.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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Nov 30, 2010 10:04 AM

Is good to see a win go into the good guys column. It happens too rarely.