Police in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have beaten and detained dozens of Tibetan villagers in a restive county after moving to quell violent clashes between two village groups over grazing rights, according to a local source.
The police assault last month in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture left many badly hurt, with restrictions on the movements of Tibetans making it difficult to provide for medical care, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“A young Tibetan named Shobe from Topa village was beaten so severely that he was left bedridden with fractured legs,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The hearing of a young man from the Lusar family was badly damaged in the assault, and a young man of the Gyatsung family named Tamdrin Gyal was driven insane by the severe beating he received and was moved to a psychiatric center in [the provincial capital] Xining,” the source said.
None of the injured received medical treatment, and it was left to family members to care for their injuries as well as they could, the source said, adding, “Restrictions on the movements of Tibetans has made it very difficult to take patients to faraway hospitals.”
“Special permits must be obtained from village leaders and township authorities,” he said.
The police attack followed two days of violent clashes between Nyalung, a cluster of nine nomad villages, and Kurde, a cluster of five, that began on Aug. 10 when two yak herders from Kurde moved their animals onto ground shared by both groups, the source said.
“Some members of the Nyalung villages went to the area to drive the herders away, and when the Kurde herders refused to move, the Nyalung youths beat them up,” he said.
The next day, Kurde villagers marched on Nyalung with stones and knives, passing by two monasteries whose lamas and monks were unable to persuade them to stop their assault, he said, adding that members of both communities were seriously hurt in the clash that followed, with one youth from Nyalung’s Aril village killed in the fighting.
On Aug. 12, a “huge contingent” of Chinese police arrived in the area and threatened to detain the Kurde villagers, and the younger Kurde residents ran into the hills to escape, the source said.
Forty members of the Kurde group were then detained, with another 17 youths later taken into custody from Kurde’s Donyam village, and the Chinese then called on the Kurde youths who had escaped into the hills to surrender, promising that if they confessed to their crimes they would be pardoned.
“But when they came down to the village, they were severely beaten and detained,” the source said.
“The local communities were then gathered together, and all those who had been detained were paraded before them as a warning,” he said.
Clashes over resources among Tibetans in Rebgong have occurred in the past, with rival groups sometimes battling over access to the valuable cordyceps, or “caterpillar,” fungus—a parasitic fungus that is prized for its purported medicinal properties.
In May last year, violent disputes left at least two dead and three wounded, with exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama urging “an end to these actions that bring disgrace to the Tibetan people.”
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.