More than 100 Tibetan protesters who fled the scene of a shooting last week by Chinese police have been taken into custody together with an unknown number of those wounded in the gunfire, according to Tibetan sources.
The shooting, which took place on Jan. 23 in Draggo county in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture, set the stage for a series of protests in Sichuan province against Chinese rule and to press for Tibetan rights in which rights and exile groups believe at least six were killed and 60 injured, some critically.
The other counties where the protests occurred were Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) and Dzamthang (in Chinese, Rangtang).
Official Chinese media reported only two Tibetans were killed after "mobs" armed with knives and stones “opened fire” on local police.
But witnesses described the Draggo protests, which called for freedom for Tibet and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, as peaceful.
“More than 100 Tibetans have now been detained and taken from the Draggo area,” said India-based monk Kalsang, citing sources in the region.
“They were taken to the Ra Nga Kha prison in Bamei, located between Dartsedo [in Chinese, Kangding] and the Tawu [in Chinese, Daofu] county center,” Kalsang said.
Identified in photos
Tibetans show the gunshot wound of a protest victim in Draggo, Jan. 23, 2012.
Photo courtesy of a RFA listener.
“The injured Tibetans were taken ‘for medical treatment’ along with the others, but whether they will really be treated is unclear. Their names and other details about them are unknown,” he said.
Kalsang said that although he was unable to speak to contacts in Draggo itself, he received word of the detentions from sources in areas nearby.
“It is certain that 100 Tibetans have been taken to jail in Bamei,” Kalsang said.
The protest in Draggo began when Chinese authorities insisted that local Tibetans celebrate the Lunar New Year against the wishes of residents saddened by earlier protest deaths.
The Jan. 23 shooting sparked wider protests and has raised tensions in Tibetan-populated regions of China following a wave of self-immolation protests beginning in March 2011 against rule by Beijing.
Following the shooting, Draggo town “filled with Chinese police and armed [security forces],” Kalsang said, adding that Chinese authorities had immediately begun to identify protesters with the help of photos and videos taken during the protest.
“Even schoolchildren who were identified in the photos have been detained,” he said.Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.