Tongkor shooting survivor reaches exile with a harrowing tale

27 November 2009

Dorjee Rinchen, 18, a monk survivor from last year’s Tongkor Monastery shooting incident recently came into exile, testified to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) about his harrowing near death experience when a huge contingent of Chinese security forces indiscriminately fired at peaceful protesters in Tongkor, Kardze County on 3rd April 2008.

Last year on 2nd April 2008, a protest flared up in Tongkor Monastery (Ch: Donggu) in Zithang Township, Kardze County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, with the arrival of official work team to conduct “patriotic education” campaign in the monastery. Under the “patriotic education” campaign, it requires monks to denounce the Dalai Lama, to oppose “hostile separatist forces”, signing documents displaying their allegiance to the Communist Party and its policies inside Tibet.

On 3rd April 2008, a huge contingent of People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) in about hundred military trucks arrived at Zithang Township, where Tongkor Monastery is located.

Chinese security forces along with “patriotic education” work team raided residences of monks, vandalized the photos of the Dalai Lama, Tongkor Shabdrung Rinpoche and Panchen Lama. The actions by the “patriotic education” work team triggered protest by monks who refused to undergo “patriotic education”session. In ensuing moments, the protest broke out when two Tibetans, one a senior monk and another a lay man were detained following their opposition and refusal to adhere and undergo “patriotic education” campaign.

Subsequently in the same evening, hundreds of strong monastic community, also joined by local Tibetans marched towards County government headquarters to demand the immediate release of Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin and layman Tsultrim Phuntsok. The protesters left the scene after being assured by Chinese officials that the two detained Tibetans would soon be released by 8 pm of 3 April 2008. However, when Chinese authorities failed to honour their promise, the protesting Tibetans returned for the protest march, but on the way they were confronted by a heavy presence of PAP and PSB officials, which later developed into a scuffle. Soon Chinese security forces fired live ammunitions at the protesting Tibetans, resulting in the death of at least 14 known Tibetans and injuring scores.

The official mouthpiece, Xinhua, admitted the incident having being taken place but described it as a  “riot”, mentioning only about an injury of one government official all together skipping the deaths, arrests and injuries inflicted on Tibetans.

One of the survivors, an eye-witness of the Tongkor massacre who previously sustained and now recovered from a severe gunshot injury had recently arrived at Dharamsala, testified to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) on 27 November 2009.

TCHRD believes that there are hundreds of Tibetans, who have similar accounts of horrifying human rights abuses and violations like one underwent by Tongkor Dorjee Rinchen trapped inside Tibet. In the light of this, TCHRD appeals to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), international community and civil societies to urge the Chinese government to secure their releases, provide treatment to those who were injured and respect the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people.

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