Eyewitness accounts and photos of protests

Friday, 21 March 2008

21st March 2008

The following accounts from Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces provide a picture of ongoing protests, Chinese military buildup in Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces and sweeping arrests of protesters by the authorities. They are based on eyewitness accounts given to Free Tibet Campaign's contacts in Dharamsala.

1) Gansu Province

Gannan City

Free Tibet Campaign's contact in Dharamsala has spoken to a very reliable source in Gannan City (Gansu Province) who reported that he had seen the arrival in the city today (20 March) of more than 200 truckloads carrying troops. The source said that each truck on average carried 25 troops. The information was corroborated by two independent sources who also told our contact that they had witnessed the arrival of the trucks.

The witnesses spoke of troops fanning out from the centre of Gannan City in three layers. The layer closest to the centre of Gannan City was armed with batons, the next layer with tear gas weapons and the third layer with machine guns. Both monks and laypeople wanted to protest but were dissuaded from doing so by the senior lamas at the monastery, according to the eyewitnesses. The situation remained very tense, however, due to the presence of the troops and was exacerbated, according to the eyewitness, by restrictions on movement imposed by the city authorities. No one is permitted to use the city's three main streets and groups of people are forbidden on all other streets in the city.

Machu County

A source from Machu County spoke by phone to a relative in Dharamsala who relayed the following information to our contact in Dharamsala.

At 6pm on 19 March, according to the eyewitness, 400 Chinese police came on to the street in Machu. Five Tibetans were arrested including the eyewitness who relayed this information to her contact in Dharamsala.

The eyewitness said the police asked the five arrested Tibetans to tell them who had led the protests but the eyewitness and the other arrested Tibetans were not able to answer as they genuinely did not know who had led the protests. The police kicked the arrested Tibetans. The eyewitness was released in the morning of 20 March but the other four arrested were kept in jail. The eyewitness said that she saw between 40 and 50 other Tibetans who were detained in the same jail but that she only knew 4 of the other detained Tibetans.

The four Tibetans arrested with the eyewitness are:

Tinley

Namlo

Dolkar Kyap - a performer in a local music band

Tinley

2) Sichuan Province

Arrests in Ngawa Prefecture (Ch: Aba Prefecture)

In italics is the information I released yesterday on protests in Huonyang county, Sichuan Province.

Our contact in Dharamsala received a phonecall from a Tibetan in Huonyang county in Sichuan to say that Tibetan students from the Tibetan Middle School had staged a demonstration in Huonyang county at 10 am on March 17. The eyewitness reported seeing 500 students. Clashed with the PSB ensued in which four students were injured: two girls and two boys. One girl was hit by a bullet in the back of the neck. The eyewitness reported that the injured were being treated in the County government hospital.

Very reliable sources from the county have confirmed the names of those known to have been arrested in the aftermath of the protests. They are:

A monk named Yeshi. From Upper Amchok. He had returned from India about two years ago where he had been staying at the Gaden monastery.

Another monk called Tamchoe who was from Garse-nang village in Amchok.

Khardze County

According to an eyewitness who spoke to our contact in Dharamsala 4 helicopters landed this morning in Mara thang town. And according to the same source, 46 truckloads of armed police arrived in Sumngo town on the 19 March. On the same morning around 200 Tibetan monks from Khardze monastery demonstrated in the town and were joined by up to 1000 laypeople. The demonstrators clashed with police and, according to the eyewitness, one monk was shot dead and several other demonstrators were injured.

The following people were confirmed arrested in the aftermath of the protests:

Jampha Thupten - a monk from Khardze Monastery

Tenzin Namgyal - also a monk from Khardze monastery.

Ngoega

Jamphel

Dargye

Thangkor Town, Dzoge County, Sichuan Province

A monk now living in Dharamsala received the following names of Tibetans arrested in Thangkor Town in Sichuan. He received the names from a reliable source well-known to him.

*Arrested on March 18-19*

Dadul (male)age42

Nyimadorje (male) age23

Cheobhe (male) age19

Thubten (male) age24

Dargye (male) age27

Khadro (male) age?

*Arrested on Mar 19 and 20. *

Donkho (female) age?

Cheoyang Tashi ((male) age 32

Tenpa (male) age17

Asang (male) age22

DonkarKyab(male) age32

Cheozin(male) age?

Skyabkho(male) age?

Tsultrim Domal(female) age36

3) Qinghai Province

A Tibetan from Tsekag County, Ganlho Prefecture in Qinghai Province spoke by phone to his brother by phone in Dharamsala. The brother relayed the following eyewitness account to one of our Dharamsala contacts:

More than 500 laypeople and monks from the Sagna monastery staged a street protest in Tsekag county. The protesters demanded that the authorities engaged in a genuine and sincere dialogue with the Dalai Lama and that genuine autonomy be brought to Tibet. As they protested they raised photos of the Dalai Lama, the 11th Panchen Lama - Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who was abducted by the Chinese authorities at the age of 5 in 1995 - and the 17th Karmapa.

The eyewitness reported that soldiers soon brought the protest under control although the use of violence by Chinese soldiers was not reported. The eyewitness also reported that the Chinese authorities in the town were conducting house to house searches and were paying particular attention to anyone who had been to India.

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Matt Whitticase

Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

Notes:

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456