Chinese Police Stop Tibetan Travelers, Pushing One Into River and Shooting Another

Chinese police have been conducting random inspections of Tibetans in Yushu since July, searching especially for politically sensitive content carried on social media on mobile phones.
Chinese Police Stop Tibetan Travelers, Pushing One Into River and Shooting Another Tibetans search the Drichu River for signs of a Tibetan traveler pushed into the river by police, Aug. 15, 2021.
Free Tibet

Police in western China’s Qinghai province stopped a group of Tibetans traveling on the road in a random search on Sunday, pushing one who objected to the search into a river where he later died, and shooting another who attempted to intervene, Tibetan sources said.

Rigdrak, 50, and Sherab Gyatso, 26, were returning to Domda village in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture with a group of other motorists when they were stopped on the road by Chinese police dressed in plain clothes, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA on Monday.

“Neither of them was aware that the officers carrying out the inspection were actually police, so Rigdrak confronted one of the officers, demanding to know which department he belonged to and why they were being stopped and searched” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Enraged, the officer pushed Rigdrak off the road and into the Drichu River,” the source said, using the Tibetan name for the Yangtse River, which originates in the highlands of Tibet.

“Local Tibetans later searched for Rigdrak’s body in the river but never found him,” he said, adding that Rigdrak is survived by his wife, named Sangmo, and by two daughters.

A passenger named Sherab Gyatso, who has five family members in Domda, also confronted police and was shot, but is now being treated at a local hospital and is out of danger, the source said.

Tibetan travelers gather at the scene of a confrontation with Chinese police in Qinghai's Yushu prefecture. Photo from Tibet

Random searches

Chinese authorities have been conducting random searches of Tibetans in the Yushu area, also called Kyegudo, since July, paying particular attention to social media and messaging apps on mobile phones, sources said in earlier reports.

On Aug. 8, police arrested three men for sharing photos on social media amid tightened security put in place for the 70th anniversary of the founding of Yushu prefecture, one source in Yushu said.

Identified as Rinchen Dorje and Kelsang Nyima from Domda village, and Lhundup from Dza Sershul, the men were detained by police conducting random inspections in the area, the source said, adding that the men were charged with sharing photos of local events on the WeChat social media platform with Tibetans living in exile.

Police deployed to Kyegudo town’s market square conducted inspections during anniversary events, and streets and playgrounds were also put under surveillance, the source said.

China has imposed strict communication clampdowns in Tibet and Tibetan areas of western Chinese provinces aimed at stopping the flow of news about protests or other politically sensitive information to Tibetans living exile and other outside contacts, sources say.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Sangyal Kunchok for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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Dolma Tsering lama
Aug 19, 2021 10:32 PM


Estelle Bevan
Sep 26, 2021 07:58 AM

I am horrified at what the Chinese are doing to Tibet and wish the world would save them from the horror of the Evil CCP how vile they are. How can they do this in the year 2021? Someone please help them!