Despite strict restriction on communication, information is coming out of Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province that Chinese paramilitary forces opened fire on unarmed Tibetan protesters on 12 August 2014. At least ten Tibetans were injured. The injured Tibetans suffered gunshot wounds to their heads and torsos. Photographs of the injuries appeared on social media sites shortly after the shooting.
The Tibetans were protesting the detention of Wangdak, 45, a widely respected village leader, the night before. Local police officers detained Wangdak at midnight from his home in Denma Shugpa Village in Loshu (Ch: Luoxu) Township in Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) County, Kardze TAP.
Wangdak had advocated for Tibetans to be allowed to observe the Denma Horse Festival. According to a reliable source with contacts in Tibet, Wangdak argued that banning the observance of the festival was a violation of the religious freedom of Tibetans because the festival was part of Tibetan cultural and religious practice. Wangdak is also the chairman of the Denma Horse Festival Committee.
In the past, the Chinese promoted the horse festival as a secular tradition but recently they have clamped down on it, viewing any manifestation of Tibetan culture as a threat to stability. Previously, Wangdak had also stood up to Chinese officials who demanded that a group of local Tibetan women perform a welcoming ceremony for a visiting senior Chinese delegation. The Chinese authorities then harassed the women, who complained to Wangdak.
Sources with contacts in Tibet have also reported the detention of an unspecified number of Tibetans on the evening of 12 August in Denma Shugpa Village with the arrival of additional paramilitary forces. On 13 August, security forces surrounded the village. This forced many young, male residents to flee to the mountains or risk being detained, interrogated and tortured. Many of the men had called for the release of Wangdak. The remaining elderly, children and women are being subjected to strict interrogation and restrictions by the paramilitary forces. The source told TCHRD that the situation in Denma Shugpa Village has become urgent and could aggravate soon.
Earlier when self-immolation protests occurred in Sershul County, villagers of Denma Shugpa Village had rejected official order to participate in a public performance organized by the local government.
“This latest shooting demonstrates the contradictions within the Chinese policy of promoting stability,” said Tsering Tsomo, the executive director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. “Instead of promoting stability, the Chinese are concerned with crushing all dissent—even if that causes more instability. If they were truly interested in promoting stability, they would listen to Tibetans like Wangdak and work with the local community to address their grievances.”
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns this latest attack on Tibetans and violation of their basic human rights that could rise to the level of crimes against humanity. TCHRD further calls for the immediate release of Wangdak and for the Chinese authorities to apologize and provide compensation to the local community.