DELHI—Two more Tibetans involved in protests last year against Chinese rule in Tibet have escaped to India, adding to the number who have successfully fled the troubled region in recent weeks.
The two—a layman, Maday Gonpo, 41, and a monk, Tsering Jigme, 24—arrived this week in the Indian capital New Delhi en route to Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government in exile.
Escaping separately after participating in a protest in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture of China’s southwestern Sichuan province, they had been sought by Chinese authorities for more than a year.
“As Tibetans in other regions rose up in protest, we also launched a protest on March 18 in Kardze calling for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, said Maday Gonpo, who helped to lead the demonstration.
“We began our protest at Tachu Do in the center of Kardze town. After we had crossed two bridges, five police vehicles and two army vehicles arrived and attacked us. There were about 1,000 protesters, including about 15 who were leaders.”
“Of these, five were detained, while I and others managed to escape. Two of my friends were wounded by gunfire,” Gonpo said.
“There was no way I could go home, so I wandered from place to place, mainly in the hills of Nyagrong and other areas where nomads live. At times, I had nothing to eat for two to three days. I also fell ill with a fever,” he said.
Gonpo said that as he became better acquainted with the nomads, they gave him food and let him use their horses to avoid arrest. Some also visited Kardze town to evaluate the situation there.
“But they told me that the Chinese there were cracking down on Tibetans by shooting at them, so there was no chance for me to go back,” he said.
Tsering Jigme, a monk from the Tsi Sung monastery in Kardze who arrived in Delhi with Maday Gonpo, had also taken part in the March 18 protest and been helped to survive in the hills for more than a year.
He declined to speak to a reporter here.
On May 7, 2008, Gonpo said, Kardze police issued a notice calling for the arrest of Maday Gonpo and Tsering Jigme, along with three other Tibetans from the Kardze area, four Tibetans from Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county, and 27 Tibetans from Serthar (in Chinese, Serta) county.
“A reward of 10,000 to 20,000 yuan was offered for anyone who could catch us,” Gonpo said.
“We heard that this was announced on television and that authorities also promised the award would be increased this year,” he added.
Much of Tibet has been closed to foreigners since a peaceful demonstration last year in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, erupted into a riot that left at least 22 dead, ignited protests in three neighboring provinces, and prompted Beijing to dramatically increase its troop presence.
The Tibetan government-in-exile in India says about 220 Tibetans died and nearly 7,000 were detained in the subsequent region-wide crackdown.
Original reporting by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited for the Web by Sarah Jackson-Han.