The pregnant wife of a Tibetan teenager who died after being shot and detained by police during mass protests in Sichuan province has committed suicide, according to exile sources.
The woman apparently was distressed over the death of Jinpa Tharchin, 18, who succumbed to untreated gunshot wounds he sustained after police opened fire into a protest on Aug. 12 by hundreds of Tibetans in Shukpa village in Sershul (Shiqu) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the sources said.
“On Aug. 18, the wife of Jinpa Tharchin, who succumbed to injuries and torture in detention, hanged herself and died," Demay Gyaltsen, a Tibetan living in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing local sources. "She was seven months pregnant.”
Tharchin was among five Tibetan protesters who died at the detention center in Loshu township after Chinese authorities refused to treat gunshot wounds sustained by them, triggering alarm among Tibetan advocacy groups who called the move a blatant human rights violation.
One among the five had committed suicide in prison amid claims that some of them had bullets still embedded in their bodies a week after the shooting.
The Tibetans had held the mass protest to express their opposition to the arrest of a respected local leader, Dema Wangdak, who had complained to the authorities over the harassment of Tibetan women by senior Chinese officials at a cultural performance during their visit to the county, according to sources.
Police officer accidentally shot dead
Gyaltsen said he was informed that one police officer was accidentally shot in the neck by fellow officers during the protest and had died.
"The local government is tight-lipped about the incident,” he said.
Gyaltsen also said that the aunt of Wangdak had been "severely tortured" in the detention center and was now "immobile and unable to speak."
Dawa Lhamo, 64, has been taken to a hospital in Dartsedo (in Chinese, Kangding) county in Kardze prefecture for urgent medical care but none of her familiy members were allowed to accompany her, he said.
“The tension in Shukpa village still prevails, as armed police remain deployed, with no information on village chief Wangdak’s whereabouts," Gyaltsen said.
"The injured continue to face hardship, and restrictions on communication lines have not been lifted,” he said.
Tibetans in Kardze prefecture are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism, and “the political climate in the region has been deeply oppressive,” the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group, said in a report last week.
Last year, at least eight Tibetans were injured when Chinese police fired gunshots and used tear gas to disperse about 1,000 monks and nuns who had gathered in a restive county in Kardze in July to mark the birthday of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.