News of extrajudicial killing of Tibetan in central Tibet delayed by two years

An undated photo of Norsang standing in front of an altar with framed photos of Tibetan Buddhist deities
An undated photo of Norsang standing in front of an altar with framed photos of Tibetan Buddhist deities
6th May 2021

Chinese authorities have reported 35-year-old Norsang’s death as suicide, a claim contested by local sources

Free Tibet  has learned of the death of a Tibetan prisoner due to his treatment in detention, two years after the event. Although local sources have stated that the death of Norsang, from Tachen Township in Nagchu Prefecture, was due to torture and ill-treatment, Chinese authorities have moved to claim it was suicide.

Norsang, 35, was arrested in September 2019, in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army’s occupation of  Tibet. During this time, authorities organised various events across Tibet to commemorate the anniversary. 

Norsang refused to accept this propaganda or participate by waving the Chinese national flag, singing or praising the Chinese Communist Party. Instead, he professed unflinching devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and pride in his distinct Tibetan national identity.

Norsang was one of the six Tibetans detained on 20 September 2019 for their refusal to raise the Chinese flag or sing a song praising the CCP. He died under mysterious circumstances more than a week after his detention. Sources spoken to by Tibet Watch believe that severe torture and beating caused his death in detention. 

The Chinese authorities at that time claimed Norsang had committed suicide by jumping into the Shakchu River due to a huge amount of debt. However, local Tibetan sources confided that Norsang’s economic situation was stable and that he had no pending loans. They believe that local police officers had beaten him to death and then fabricated the suicide theory to avoid taking responsibility for his death.

Due to severe restrictions, the news has not been able to reach outside Tibet for almost two years.   

Following his arrest, a number of police cars arrived at his home and searched everywhere repeatedly causing immense psychological distress to his family and pregnant wife. Due to the traumatic death of her husband and its grief in the aftermath, Norsang’s wife suffered a nervous breakdown. A regular search operation has been conducted in their village since then to find out villagers having contact with Tibetans-in-exile and threatened with dreadful repercussions.

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