Extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and religious repression continue in restive Tibetan county

Senior Buddhist scholar Geshe Ngawang Jamyang was beaten to death in police custody less than a month after his arrest in December 2013 in Diru County.
Senior Buddhist scholar Geshe Ngawang Jamyang was beaten to death in police custody less than a month after his arrest in December 2013 in Diru County.

Latest information received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) demonstrates escalating violence and crackdowns including extrajudicial killing and arbitrary detentions in Diru (Ch: Biru) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), in the eastern Tibetan province of Kham.

A source with contacts in Tibet informed TCHRD that a popular and respected village headman became a victim of extrajudicial killings on 21 November on the orders of the local Communist Party authorities. Bachen Gyewa aka Ngawang Monlam, the headman of Ushung Village in Gyashoe Yangshok Township (also known as Sentsa Township) in Diru County was removed from his post, arrested and then killed on the orders of the secretary of the Diru County Party Committee.

The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear but it appears that Bachen Gyewa posed a formidable challenge to the Chinese government’s ongoing ‘stability maintenance’ measures that have been implemented since late 2011.[i] It did not help either that the late village headman was a former monk at the local Pekar Monastery which has witnessed sporadic yet intense demonstration against new religious measures implemented by the Chinese government.

In March 2012, TCHRD published the information about the sacking of Mr Soegyam, the head of Layok Village in Diru County because he refused to follow the new repressive guidelines issued by the TAR authorities. By then, over 13 Tibetan officials in TAR had been fired since December 2011 for not enforcing the Chinese government’s strict new security guidelines. The extrajudicial killing of Bachen Gyewa, which appears to be another case of death in detention, is a serious development indicating that the continued crackdown in Diru County has turned violent for all purposes and intents.

The news of the extrajudicial killing of the village headman comes soon after the recent enforcement of a host of repressive policies to crackdown Tibetan dissent, including what the source calls as “59 points of law aimed at brutalizing and torturing Tibetans on various trumped up charges.” The secretary of the Diru County Party Committee issued the regulation containing 59 articles.

Quoting local Tibetans, the source told TCHRD, “[Bachen Gyewa] was a courageous and patriotic Tibetan leader who served the village with utmost dedication for many years. Although the local Tibetans respected him as their leader, the Chinese authorities didn’t have a positive view of him.”

The source added that Bachen Gyewa was known for his outstanding leadership, someone who had worked tirelessly to promote the religious, cultural, educational, social and economic wellbeing and unity of the people of Ushung village.

“At the village he built a huge community hall, where he invited Tibetan lamas to give religious teachings and organized prayer ceremonies and cultural performances. He built a school, where he invited educated Tibetans to teach illiterate Tibetans, including the young and elderly. He helped found Tibetan opera and dance institutes, built hospitals, shops and roads in the locality,” said the source.

“Thanks to the rehabilitation programs initiated by Bachen Gyewa, the unemployed Tibetan youth of Ushung village have started giving up excessive drinking, smoking, gambling and thieving.”

The source said all these changes caused extreme fear in the local Chinese leadership and as a result Bachen Gawa was removed from his position as village head, arrested and killed. Another man has been appointed in his stead as the village headman by the local authorities.

Local authorities have now issued a stern warning to the Tibetans in Gyashoe Yangshok Township to maintain total silence on the killing of the village headman and related detention and arrests. Travels to areas outside their village are strictly being controlled.

“The authorities forcibly took signatures of local Tibetans, making them promise not to reveal any information about the incidents to the outside world. They have imposed other measures of control, including travel restrictions in the area,” said the source.

Many Tibetans sympathetic to the fate of Bachen Gyewa have become victims of arbitrary detentions and arrests and they are being held at Diru County detention centre, according to the source. TCHRD to unable to ascertain the exact number and identities of those detained but the source named four of those detained as Paga, Nemed, Droril and Tashi. No additional information is available on the four at the moment.

Crackdowns on religious institutions have escalated with the expulsion of more than 40 monks from Pekar Monastery and about a hundred nuns from Jada Nunnery. Besides monks and nuns of Gyashoe Yangshok studying in religious institutions in other parts of eastern Tibet were ordered to return to their ancestral village. Failure to do so, warned the Chinese authorities, would lead to expulsion from their village. Crackdowns on religious institutions in nagchu and Chamdo began in October 2011 with the enforcement of new measures to control Tibetan Buddhist institutions.[ii]

As a result, monks and nuns from Gyashoe Yangshok in other parts of eastern Tibet have recently returned to their village. According to the source, the returning monks and nuns have confirmed that Tibetan monasteries and nunneries throughout TAR, especially the ones in Nagchu and Chamdo (Ch: Changdu) Prefectures are being subjected to severe crackdown including the intensification of the ‘patriotic education’ campaigns.

Diru County continues to defy Chinese government attempts to maintain ‘political stability’ and crack down on dissent resulting in a number of cases of arbitrary detention,[iii] arrests, shooting,[iv] enforced disappearances,[v] collective punishment,[vi] extrajudicial killings[vii] and illegal sentencing[viii].



[i] Chinese government cadres take over Tibetan monasteries, 12 March 2012, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2012/03/chinese-government-cadres-take-over-tibetan-monasteries/

[ii] Increased religious repression forces monks to flee, monasteries to close, 29 February 2012, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2012/02/increased-religious-repression-forces-monks-to-flee-monasteries-to-close/

[iii] No let-up in Diru crackdown: 17 Tibetans detained as party officials greet armed police, 8 November 2013, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2013/11/no-let-up-in-diru-crackdown-17-tibetans-detained-as-party-officials-greet-armed-forces/

[iv] Diru under lockdown: One Tibetan sentenced; more injured by gunshots and disappeared, 8 October 2013, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2013/10/diru-under-lockdown-one-tibetan-sentenced-more-injured-by-gunshots-and-disappeared/

[v] Repression escalates in Tibet’s Diru County: Tibetan youth beaten to death, 2 others given heavy sentences and another disappeared, 7 February 2014, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2014/02/repression-escalates-in-tibets-diru-county-tibetan-youth-beaten-to-death-2-others-given-heavy-sentences-and-another-disappeared/

See also China disappears a father of three, arrests 10 others in ongoing crackdown in Diru, 21 October 2013, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2013/10/china-disappears-tibetan-father-of-three-arrests-10-others-in-ongoing-crackdown-in-diru/

[vi] China holds Tibetan livelihood to ransom to secure political stability, 30 July 2014, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2014/07/china-holds-tibetan-livelihood-to-ransom-to-secure-political-stability-2/

[vii] Diru Crackdown: Senior Tibetan Buddhist scholar beaten to death in police custody, 19 December 2013, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2013/12/diru-crackdown-senior-tibetan-buddhist-scholar-beaten-to-death-in-police-custody/

[viii] Writer among two sentenced to harsh prison terms of 10 to 13 years in Diru County, 4 April 2014, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2014/04/writer-among-two-sentenced-to-harsh-prison-terms-of-10-to-13-years-in-diru-county/

See also Monk sentenced to 18 years in prison in restive Diru County, 4 April 2014, TCHRD, https://tchrd.org/2014/04/monk-sentenced-to-18-years-in-prison-in-restive-diru-county/


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