Large military deployment in Tibetan town on anniversary of fatal shooting (pictures)
Free Tibet has obtained photographs of a large military deployment on the streets of Drango, south eastern Tibet (1), in a show of force two years after Tibetans were killed by security forces in the town.
The photographs, taken on 27 January, show a convoy of armoured cars and other military vehicles, which arrived in the town the preceding night (photos available from Free Tibet (2).
In addition to patrolling the streets, the military forces have also randomly checked local peoples' identity papers and dispersed people gathered in groups at tea shops and restaurants. There are no reports at present of any arrests.
On 23 January 2012, two Tibetans were killed when security forces fired on a peaceful demonstration of hundreds of Tibetans.
At least 30 were injured in the incident (3) which took place on Chinese New Year.
Two other Tibetans in Drango were killed by security forces in February 2012 during the police round-up following the demonstrations (4).
The deployment this month has taken place in advance of Chinese New Year, which this year falls on 31 January.
Driru County in the Tibet Autonomous Region has been the scene of an intense crackdown since Tibetans refused to fly the Chinese flag on their homes last September. Protesters in the area were fired upon in October and severe restrictions and a significant security presence have continued in the area (5).
The crackdown is believed to be intended partly to stop demonstrations spreading to other parts of Tibet.
Free Tibet director, Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, said:
“China’s only response to Tibetans peacefully standing up for their rights is force. Two years ago, they did not hesitate to use lethal force on a peaceful demonstration in Drango. Now they are intimidating the population with a display of military might.
“Where 2012 and early 2013 saw individual self-immolations become the most significant form of protest in Tibet, the last few months in particular have seen an increase in collective protests.
China is desperate to contain and prevent any further such resistance. Repression, however, frequently leads to further protest and given local sensitivities at this time of year, the situation in Drango could deteriorate quickly.”
For more information, comment or images, contact Free Tibet media officer Alistair Currie
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605
(1) Location: Drango (also known as Draggo), Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. (Chinese: Luhuo, Ganzi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province)
(2) Photos available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157640315393774/ Please credit Free Tibet
(3) Free Tibet press releases, January 2012 http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/one-tibetan-shot-dead-many-more-injured-draggo and http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/two-more-killed-and-more-wounded-draggo
(4) Free Tibet press release, February 2013 http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetans-shot-following-protest-drango
(5) Free Tibet news article, 24 Jan 2014 http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/mine-protesters-victimised-driru