Three more Tibetans die of injuries following Kardze shooting: five deaths in total

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

UPDATE: DECEMBER 2014
Subsequent investigations by Free Tibet's research partner Tibet Watch have been unable to confirm the deaths of any Tibetans in addition to Tsewang Gongpo, Yeshe and Jinpa Tharchin. A policeman was killed in the incident after being accidentally shot by security forces but his name and whether he was Chinese or Tibetan is not known. The current confirmed total of deaths is therefore four. For more information on the 12 August shootings see the Tibet Watch report Crackdown in Kardze

Jailed protesters die in custody after denial of medical treatment

Following the incident when 10 unarmed Tibetan protesters were shot in Lochung, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, on Tuesday 12 August (1), the deaths of three more of those injured have been confirmed. The men died in detention in Lochung having been denied medical treatment for their injuries. Their deaths follow and are in addition to two previously confirmed deaths, on Sunday 17 August (2).

The three dead protesters were all close relatives of village leader Wangdak, whose arrest triggered the protests. They have been identified as Tsewang Gonpo, 60; Yeshe, 42 and Jinpa Tharchin, 18. Tsewang Gonpo was Wangdak’s uncle, Yeshe was Wangdak’s cousin and Jinpa Tharchin was Wangdak’s brother-in-law. The exact date of their deaths is unknown but their bodies were returned to their families on 18 August, 2014.

The shootings occurred after the arrest of Wangdak on 11 August. He had been in dispute with authorities over the harassment of female community members by officials and the authorities declaring local festivals illegal. Around 100 Tibetans gathered the next day, 12 August, to protest against his detention and security forces opened fire, injuring at least 10 (1).

Since the shootings, villagers have been called to official meetings by the local authorities and instructed to say that Wangdak’s arrest was because of improper use of public funds. Due to few people attending the first meeting, on 19 August, 2014, authorities have been forcing local Tibetans to attend further meetings.

According to sources in the area, approximately 250 troops and security forces are deployed in and around the Shukpa village area.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“The first priority in these circumstances is for the international community to demand that the Chinese authorities ensure those remaining in detention receive immediate medical treatment. After the terrible suffering of Wangdak's family, there must be no more deaths.

“This shooting and the subsequent treatment of detainees exposes the reality of China’s so-called ‘rule of law’ in Tibet. Tibetans not only face a legal framework that criminalises their expression of basic human and civil rights, but know that even the meagre protections the law is supposed to allow them are not worth the paper they are written on. China brags of its investment and economic development in Tibet but however expensive its grand projects, in Tibet, Tibetan lives are cheap.”

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Contact: Alistair Currie, campaigns and media manager, Free Tibet
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Notes for Editors

(1) Location: Lochung township, Derge County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province (Chinese: Luoxu, Dege County, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan); Free Tibet press release: 14 August 2014 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/chinese-forces-fire-tibetan-protesters-10-seriously-injured-pictures
(2) Free Tibet press release 18 August 2014 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/two-tibetans-die-custody-after-being-shot-security-forces-last-week