Chinese security forces have shot dead four Tibetan villagers and wounded 50 others in a continuing crackdown on protests in a Tibetan county opposing a government campaign of forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, sources said.
The shooting deaths in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture on Tuesday were the first reported fatalities since the authorities began a crackdown last month on Tibetans protesting against orders to fly the Chinese flag from their homes, the sources said, citing the tight security situation for the delay in transmitting the news.
Last Sunday, security forces shot and wounded at least 60 Tibetans as they fired into a crowd demanding the release of a villager who had led protests against the Chinese orders.
The latest shooting occurred as Chinese paramilitary police flooded the county to suppress the unrest.
“On Tuesday morning, three Tibetans from Sengthang village and one Tibetan from Tinring village were killed when the Chinese opened fire on protesters,” a Tibetan source in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday, citing sources in the region.
“Around fifty Tibetans from Yangthang village were also injured,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Additional paramilitary forces have been sent to Driru from [the Tibetan capital] Lhasa and from Nagchu, and some have also been sent from the Karmo region,” he said.
“Driru is now flooded with Chinese paramilitary police, and Tibetans are being stopped from traveling with no reason given.”
Separately, a Driru resident confirmed the deaths of those killed in Sengthang, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Today, I learned that three Tibetans were killed in the area of Sengthang,” he said. “I was also told that many Tibetans from Driru who now live in Lhasa are being detained.”
The names of those killed in the shooting were not immediately available.
Speaking from exile, a Tibetan with contacts in Driru said that Chinese police are confiscating the mobile phones of Lhasa residents with contacts in the county.
“Some contacts told me that if no messages are received, I should assume they have been detained by the police,” the source, named Tashi Gyaltsen, said.
'Better to die'
Many said that even if they are detained or killed, “it is better to die than to live under these conditions,” Gyaltsen said.
“They say that now they cannot move from place to place, and are prisoners in their own homes.”
On Sept. 3, an elderly Tibetan was detained and severely beaten for shouting slogans for Tibetan freedom at a Driru cultural show where Tibetans were required to wave Chinese flags, triggering protests.
Dayang, 68, who is recovering in hospital with internal injuries resulting from alleged police torture, has been ordered jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 122 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.