Chinese Police Fire on Unarmed Tibetan Protesters in Driru

driru-map2-305 A map of Driru county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in Tibet.

Chinese 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 orders to fly the Chinese flag from their homes, according to sources Monday.

The incident Sunday in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county of Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture was sparked when a crowd gathered to confront police attempting to search the home of Dorje Draktsel, who was detained last week after taking part in local protests, the sources said.

At least 60 were wounded when the Chinese troops opened fire, with many of those hurt suffering gunshots to their hands and legs and others knocked unconscious when police fired tear gas into the crowd, they said.

Many of the injured have still not received medical care, according to the sources.

Tagged as a leader

Draktsel, a resident of the township’s Yangthang village, had been tagged by authorities as one of the leaders of the protest by Driru-area Tibetans resisting orders to fly the Chinese flag from their homes.

“He had escaped from Dathang township and was going to Driru town when he was taken into custody,” a Tibetan living in exile Tashi Dondrub told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.

After Draktsel was detained, “[Chinese] armed police went to search his home, and when the villagers protested, more armed police arrived and fired into the crowd,” Dondrub said.

At least two of the protesters were critically wounded.

One of them, Tashi Gyaltsen, was sent to a hospital in the regional capital Lhasa, a local source in Driru said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“An elderly woman was also hit by gunfire and is now in critical condition,” an India-based exile source named Tenzin told RFA’s Mandarin Service on Monday, also citing sources in the area.

“Other Tibetans suffered gunshots to their hands or legs, and many were knocked unconscious when police fired tear gas into the crowd,” Tenzin said.

Brutally beaten

Another protester—Tsering Gyaltsen, 25—was earlier detained and brutally beaten after being identified as a ringleader of last week’s protest against forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, Tenzin said.

“He was rushed to a hospital in Lhasa on Oct. 5,” he said, adding, “Now his condition is very worrisome, but doctors refuse to provide details.”

Because of “extremely strict” controls on information channels, it is impossible to obtain photos of those wounded in Sunday’s shooting, Tenzin said.

“Chinese authorities have dispatched more than 200 paramilitary and police vehicles to villages [in Driru], setting up checkpoints on all the major roads,” he said.

“They have confiscated Tibetans’ cell phones and blocked communications by phone and the Internet. Now people have to bring their ID cards even when they go out to shop, and police are taking away all Tibetans who cannot show their ID.”

Driru-area Tibetans now living in Lhasa have been forbidden to return to their hometowns, a local source added.

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 Tibetans setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service and by Dan Zhen for the Mandarin Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Ping Chen. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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