HONG KONG—A Tibetan inmate of a jail in China’s southwestern Sichuan province has kidnapped a prison guard in retaliation for harsh treatment in detention, sparking a region-wide manhunt and a U.S. $14,000 reward.
“An arrest order has been issued,” said an officer who answered the phone at the Kangding county public security department in Sichuan’s Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
“[The reward] is 100,000 yuan (about U.S. $15,000). [The wanted man is] Pasang,” the officer said.
Sources in the region, under tight security since unrest flared in Tibetan communities in March 2008, said the guard was taken hostage Feb. 1 in the prefecture’s Kardze county.
“One of the Tibetan inmates in the prison, known as Pasang, forcibly took hostage one of the prison guards, known as Chang Kasong, and broke out of the jail,” one Kardze-based source said.
Pasang is a native of Palyul county in Kardze, sources said. According to one source, Pasang was detained along with several other men in connection with a 2009 killing in Palyul, but hadn't yet been tried.
Another source said a local Tibetan tipped off the police that the fugitive was last seen fleeing toward Sichuan’s Tongkhor town from the newly built prison.
Known for brutality
The breakout sparked a widespread manhunt with roadblocks and hundreds of police manning checkpoints along the road to Tongkhor.
Local sources said the kidnapped Chinese prison guard had a reputation for treating Tibetan inmates harshly.
“[He] is one of meanest officers in charge,” one source said.
“He is notorious for his ill-treatment of Tibetan prisoners.”
He said Chang Kasong would confiscate food packages and take money intended for prisoners.
“He was very vicious in torturing Tibetan inmates, particularly those Tibetans who took part in the 2008 uprising,” the second source said.
County police have issued a request for cooperation from residents, calling all households to help find Pasang, with a potential reward of 100,000 yuan.
In March 2008, a protest against Chinese rule in and around the Tibetan regional capital, Lhasa, sparked rioting throughout the region in which Beijing said 22 people, mostly Chinese civilians, died.
Chinese authorities blamed Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, and his followers. The Tibetan government-in-exile in India says about 220 Tibetans died and nearly 7,000 were detained in the subsequent regionwide crackdown.
Residents of Kardze, part of what Tibetans know as Kham, have earned a reputation for speaking out against Chinese rule.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Qiao Long and by RFA's Tibetan service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.