KATHMANDU—Hundreds of Tibetan nomads have clashed with police in China’s western Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) after a disagreement between three teenage monks and Chinese shopkeepers, according to sources in the region.
Three monks from Jesho Baikar monastery went to Baikar (in Chinese, Baiga Shang), Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture, to shop on Nov. 20, one source said.
A disagreement ensued, and one shopkeeper phoned the police.
“When the police arrived, they fired eight rounds of warning shots. No one was injured. But they detained two young monks and left one in the area—he was beaten by the police,” the source said.
The detained monks were identified as Yeshi Thokme, 15, and Dhondup Dorjee, 16. Tsering Gyaltsen, 14, was left behind.
“Three males named Sonam Thondup, Tashi Topgyal and Tenpa Norbu were the worst victims. They were suspected of inciting the protests and all three of them were brutally beaten and injured.”
This confrontation is still going on in Baiga town, of Dri-ru Xian (in Chinese, Biru) county.
The source said Tsering Gyaltsen was wearing a photo of the Dalai Lama around his neck when he was detained, and police beat him severely after he refused to denounce the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
The 14 year-old had been left without medical attention in the courtyard of a government building in Baikar town, along with around 50 other Tibetan nomads who went there demanding the monks' release, the source said.
"They were not provided any bedding and medical care and served just one meal a day this past week or more. Among those who are detained there were some mothers who had given birth just a few days before. They could not return to feed their infants. There was also an old lady who is about 70 years old. She was also detained but later released," the source added.
Several hundred Tibetan nomads gathered in Baikar to appeal for the monks’ release late on Nov. 20, but police refused to free them, sources said.
The crowd became violent, ransacking official buildings and vehicles, and hundreds of armed police were deployed to their area.
Clashes followed, and an unknown number of people were injured. Police detained six Tibetans, identified only as Keyu, Damdul, Dorjee, Dakpa, and Tashi. One of the detained Tibetans couldn’t be identified.
The next morning, Nov. 21, the crowd of Tibetan protesters had grown to nearly 1,000, according to witnesses.
“This confrontation is still going on in Baiga town, of Dri-ru Xian (in Chinese, Biru) county,” one source said.
A county official contacted by telephone confirmed that the clashes had occurred and said “county officials went to the area,” although he said he couldn’t provide any details.
The incident follows several months of escalating tensions in traditionally Tibetan areas of what is now western China, with Chinese authorities taking a tougher line against what they regard as ethnic "splittism," or resistance to Chinese rule in the region.
Original reporting in Uke, Amdo, and Kham for RFA-Tibetan. Additional reporting by RFA-Mandarin. Translated and edited by Karma Dorjee. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han and edited by Luisetta Mudie.