12/11/2019

Senior monk among the latest identified in Tawu shootings

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Warning: This post contains graphic images. 

An undated photograph of Chanzoe Tsewang Choephel, a senior monk and staff at Nyatso Monastery.
An undated photograph of Tsewang Choephel, a senior monk and staff at Nyatso Monastery.

Tsewang Choephel, a senior monk and administrative staff (Tib: chanzoe) at Nyatso Monastery, is the latest Tibetan to be identified among those injured in Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) firing on 6 July.

According to information and photographs received by TCHRD, senior monk Tsewang Choephel was shot at multiple times on his hands and legs. His condition is critical. With Tsewang Choephel’s identification, the number of the injured in PAP firing has increased to ten, including a layman Ugyen Tashi who was shot with eight bullets.

The beatings, shootings and teargassing in Tawu led to the violent disruption of an otherwise peaceful religious ceremony observed to celebrate the 78th birthday of the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The scale and extent of the Tawu shootings appear to overshadow another brutal shootings in January 2012 in Drango (Ch: Luhuo) County.

The PAP-led crackdown in Tawu is clearly aimed at suppressing the faith and respect shown by local Tibetans for the Dalai Lama on his birthday. The venue of the ceremony, the home of the popular mountain deity Machen Pomra, is a local landmark where Tibetans usually pray and make offerings. Last year on 6 July, armed police ringed the venue and put blockades long before the Tibetans arrived to hold the ceremony.

Sources informed TCHRD with more information on circumstances leading to the release of 14 detained Tibetans on the night of 7 July. On 6 July, following the bloody confrontation and detention, local Tibetans gathered at the courtyard of Nyatso Monastery and held a vociferous protest condemning the shootings and beatings, and calling for the immediate release of the 14 Tibetans who were savagely beaten and detained.

Bullet wounds on Tsewang Choephel's upper arm.
Bullet wounds on Tsewang Choephel’s upper arm.

According to TCHRD sources, one unconfirmed eyewitness account claims that PAP soldiers not only addressed but also kowtowed before the courtyard protesters asking apology for their excesses. TCHRD reported earlier that PAP soldiers issued a verbal apology in their address to protesters in the courtyard of Nyatso Monastery.

The courtyard protest at Nyatso Monastery led to an emergency meeting on 7 July in Tawu County, attended by the governor of Sichuan Province, county government staff and representatives from Nyatso Monastery. A decision was reached at the meeting to release the detained Tibetans. Sources say monastic representatives played an important role in mediating and averting an escalating conflict.

Bullet wounds on his legs.
Bullet wounds on his legs.

On 7 July, between 10 and 11 pm, the detained Tibetans were released and hospitalised for medical treatment. Local eyewitnesses say many are unable to walk due to unrestrained beatings and needed constant support during hospitalisation. The injured endured one day and one night in detention without any medical help.

 

Correction:

In the report, ‘Environmental activist suffers broken ribs in savage beatings in Tawu’ (Click here for full report), the name of the Tibetan environmental activist who was shot at by PAP soldiers was erroneously reported as “Kyasor Gyatso”. The correct name is Gyaltsen, a layman from Dunkye nomadic camp in Tawu County. TCHRD regrets the error.