Nangpa shooting witnesses

Two of the climbers who witnessed the Nangpa shooting, Luis Benitez and Pierre Maina, brief an audience of Tibetan cabinet ministers, NGOs and Tibetan media in Dharamsala on 22 March 2007.

ICT held two press briefings in Delhi and Dharamsala in March with two climbers who witnessed the Nangpa shooting on 30 September last year. A full account of the incident is provided in ICT’s refugee report, ‘Dangerous Crossing‘.

The following report was published by AFP:

NEW DELHI, March 19, 2007 (AFP) – A Danish climber who witnessed Chinese border guards shoot at Tibetan refugees and kill a Buddhist nun at the border with Nepal last year said Monday he wanted to do more to help, but
was afraid.

“I was lying in my tent that morning,” 48-year-old Pierre Maena, a surgeon from Copenhagen on his first climbing trip in China, told reportersin New Delhi.

“I heard a lot of noises, like shooting, but I didn’t realise it was shooting. Bit by bit I realised something very horrible was happening,” hesaid, recounting the September 30, 2006 incident.

A teenage Tibetan Buddhist nun who was in the group of some 75 refugees, almost half of whom were children, was killed on the spot. “We were talking if maybe we could go to the pass to see if (she) was still alive but we didn’t dare. We were too afraid. There was a long distance and still there were a lot of soldiers,” he said.

Maena described what he saw as reporters watched a longer version of thefootage of the incident, which was filmed by a Romanian television journalist and triggered international condemnation.

The footage contradicted the Chinese police version of events, which maintained that the Tibetan refugees had attacked the border guards.

“To see all the Chinese soldiers standing there and just shooting those people without any possibility to hide or to run away, it was very shocking,” said the Dane.

Maena was invited to speak at the Indian capital by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet. The Romanian journalist was denied a visa by India, the group said.

Maena said that after the shooting he saw many of the children being taken away by soldiers with machine guns.

At least 25 Tibetans from the group were detained by Chinese police after the incident, the US-based rights group said.

Close to 3,000 Tibetans make the dangerous journey across the mountains from Tibet to Nepal and finally Dharamsala, the Indian hill station where Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama lives in exile.

Many of those are nuns or monks fleeing religious persecution, or children being sent by their parents to study in Tibetan Buddhist schools.

Reports of the briefings are available at: