Case Studies- Use of lethal force- Yonten

Yonten was shot dead in 2012 after Chinese security forces opened fire on a large number of unarmed protesters
Yonten was shot dead in 2012 after Chinese security forces opened fire on a large number of unarmed protesters

During January 2012, Chinese security forces responded to peaceful protests with live ammunition, killing and wounding Tibetan protestors.

Chinese forces have responded in such a manner in several incidents since, making the lethal use of force against peaceful protestors regrettably common in Tibet.

Norpa Yonten, a 49-year old herder, was shot dead by Chinese security forces on 24 January 2012 in Drango town.

36 Tibetans shot

Yonten was involved in a protest when he was shot by Chinese security forces. 36 people sustained gunshot wounds, and two died, making this January event the largest reported shooting since 2008.

Yonten was shot in the head and died at the scene. His body was moved to Drango monastery.

Large crowds gathered in front of the monastery in a show of solidarity, some of them travelling quite far to attend Yonten’s funeral.

Remembered in a poem

In the immediate aftermath of Yonten’s death, the Tibetan blogger Woeser wrote a poem dedicated to him.

‘To Yonden Who Was Killed By Gunfire’ [Extract]

But facing this photo,

Your name: Yonden,

Turns into torrential tears,

Which still cannot fill the occupied homeland.

Curly black hair, ochre cheeks,

Because of fate we were both raised with tsampa

Suddenly, I returned to the ancestors and siblings who have been in my previous lives as well as this one

This herder named Yonden from Drango, on the first day of the year of the dragon,

Was killed by the bullets of the Chingdrol Magmi with other unknown compatriots

Hitting the gawu that was worn in front of the chest,

Has he already been sent to the peak of the snow mountain by the white horse?

The full poem can be found on the website High Peaks Pure Earth.  

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