Tibetan Robbed, Shot by Police

Will police in China's Sichuan province investigate a suspicious shooting in custody?
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Chinese soldiers patrol a street in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, March 23, 2008.
Chinese soldiers patrol a street in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, March 23, 2008.

HONG KONG—Police in the Kardze region of China’s Sichuan province shot and killed a Tibetan truck driver after seizing his load of timber, according to Tibetan sources.

The shooting occurred around Oct. 14, a Tibetan resident of the area said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The truck driver, identified by several sources as Sanggye, was shot and killed “at a place called Satoe, located in between Kardze and Nyagrong counties in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] prefecture,” the source said.

Sanggye, travelling with a nephew and the nephew’s wife, was stopped and searched, and his timber confiscated by police, while he was driving toward Kardze, the source said.

Gunshots fired

A map shows the location of Kardze Region, in China's Sichuan province.
A map shows the location of Kardze Region, in China's Sichuan province. Photo: RFA

Sources in the area said all three were taken to the Kardze police station, where Sanggye was beaten as his nephew shouted for police to stop.

He then heard three shots fired and saw Sanggye lying on the ground, Tibetan sources said. The nephew phoned relatives, who took Sangyye to the local hospital, where he died.

At one point Sanggye’s relatives held the police officers they suspected of shooting him, along with two officials, and threatened to kill them if he died.

“But a monk relative intervened, and they released the police and officials,” one source said.

His family has been offered 55,000-59,000 yuan as compensation after relatives threatened to protest by displaying his body unless the police officer or officers who shot him were jailed, two Tibetans said.

The offer of compensation was made by a decision of a "local court," one source added.

“He is survived by a wife named Sonam Lhatso and a daughter. They are residents of the Lopa area in Kardze,” a resident said.

A Kardze police official contacted by telephone said, “We don’t know the details, but a Tibetan was killed because he was drunk and attacked police.”

Police transferred

"How did you know about this? If he hadn’t committed a crime, he wouldn’t have been shot,” a police officer in nearby Kangding said.

Another Tibetan resident said, “The Chinese police who shot Sanggye have now been transferred from Kardze.”

Whether police were conducting an internal investigation was unclear.

Nyagrong [in Chinese, Xinlong] county in Sichuan’s Kardze prefecture is rich in timber but short of grain, a Tibetan resident of Beijing said.

“Nyagrong residents collect wood for fuel and construction and exchange this for grain from Kardze county,” he said. “This is what the victim, Sanggye, was doing.”

The Kardze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Sichuan province has seen repeated protests over the last year by Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule, and tensions in the region remain high.

Reported by Dolkar, Dorjee Damdul, and Lobsang Chophel for RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.





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