UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2014: Death toll increases in Kardze as three more Tibetans die of untreated wounds after shooting

Three more Tibetans died of untreated wounds after paramilitary troops fired upon unarmed Tibetans in Kardze, the Tibetan area of Kham, last week. (ICT report, Tibetans with wounds after shooting denied medical treatment: deployment of military leads to mass detentions in village in Kham) This follows the death of two other Tibetans held in custody, one of whom committed suicide, while the other died of untreated wounds.

The three Tibetans who died at the detention centre in Loshu (Chinese: Luoxu) in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi,) were identified by exile Tibetan sources as Tsewang Gonpo, 60; Yeshe, in his early forties, and Jinpa Tharchin, who was 18. Their bodies were returned to their families earlier this week.

A Tibetan living in India, Demay Gyaltsen, told Radio Free Asia: “They were refused medical care and had been tortured by the Chinese authorities.” (RFA, Three More Detained Tibetan Protesters Die From Gunshot Wounds).

ICT has not been able to confirm the type of ammunition used by the paramilitary police (People’s Armed Police) who fired upon the unarmed, peaceful crowd in Kardze. While it is likely that live ammunition was not used, ‘anti-riot’ rounds or similar projectiles are still capable of causing serious injury and death, directly exacerbated by the withholding of medical treatment.

Around ten Tibetans were injured in Sershul, Kardze, Sichuan, yesterday (August 12) after paramilitary police opened fire on a crowd of Tibetans protesting the detention of a respected village leader, according to Tibetan sources. The area, in the Tibetan region of Kham, is now under tight control, with local Tibetans including the elderly and children subject to interrogation, according to several Tibetan sources in exile.

Images from the area circulating on social media depicted Tibetans with what appear to be serious wounds on the head and torso following the incident yesterday (August 12) in Loshu (Chinese: Luoxu) Township in Sershul (Chinese: Shiqu) county in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi).[1]

Images of Tibetans wounded

Images of Tibetans wounded following the shooting circulated on social media.

The crowd of Tibetans had gathered to protest after a widely respected village leader named as Wangdak was detained from his home in the middle of the night on Monday or Tuesday (August 11 or 12).[2] According to the same sources, Tibetans in exile who are from the area, Wangdak had expressed his support for a traditional gathering at the beginning of a local horse festival, in which Tibetans would burn incense and make prayer offerings, after it appeared that official restrictions were likely. Wangdak may also have raised concern over further tensions over demands from officials over a welcoming ceremony, and possible harassment of local Tibetan women by these officials, according to some sources.[3]

Tibetans gather

Tibetans gather to express support for Wangdak.


Wangdak, the respected village leader whose detention led to a protest.

When local people heard that Wangdak had been detained from his home, they gathered to protest his detention and call for his release. Paramilitary police were deployed and according to several exile sources, used teargas and opened fire on the crowd. Full details of the circumstances of the shooting are not known. The wounded are believed to have been taken to hospital in Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu). Details of their identities and condition are not known. The sources said that Wangdak’s son and another relative were among those shot and injured.

Tibetans in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (in the Tibetan region of Kham) are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism, and the political climate in the region has been deeply oppressive, particularly since 2008. The Chinese authorities have noted that their loyalty to the Dalai Lama and strong resistance has made the work of “maintaining public order and safeguarding stability…very arduous.”[4]

Last year, two Tibetans were shot in the head and at least eight others seriously injured after police opened fire at unarmed Tibetans who had gathered for a picnic and to offer prayers for the Dalai Lama’s birthday at a sacred mountain in Nyitso, Tawu, (Chinese: Dawu/Daofu), Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. July 6.[5]

On April 3, 2008, at least eight Tibetans were killed in Kardze county in the same prefecture after armed police fired on a crowd of several hundred monks and laypeople after an incident in which monks were detained after they objected to an intensified ‘patriotic education’ campaign, including photographs of the Dalai Lama being thrown to the ground.[6]

UPDATE AUGUST 19, 2014: In our report of August 18, 2014, ICT described the wounds as ‘bullet’ wounds. However, ICT has not been able to confirm the type of ammunition used by the paramilitary police (People’s Armed Police) who fired upon the unarmed, peaceful crowd. Given the type of wounds observed in the images, it seems likely that live ammunition was not used, but that some form of anti-riot projectiles were fired with the intention of stopping the demonstrations and wounding individuals. Such weapons can still kill people, and there are serious concerns for those who were wounded who remain in custody, apparently without medical treatment.

[1] This area is traditionally part of Derge (Chinese: Dege), which also used to include most of Sershul area.

[2] The exact date could not be confirmed due to controls on information in the area.

[3] The exile newspaper Tibet Post cited sources saying: “Local Chinese authorities have ordered a group of local Tibetan women to perform in order to give warm reception for a senior Chinese delegation who recently visited the county. But, the Tibetan performers later told their village leader Wangdak that the Chinese authorities harassed them during the visits of senior Chinese officials.” August 13, 2014, http://www.thetibetpost.com/en/news/tibet/4161-chinese-police-open-fire-on-crowd-of-protesters-in-tibet

[4] Ganzi Daily, January 4, 2008

[5] ICT report, https://savetibet.org/shooting-in-tawu-on-dalai-lamas-birthday-update/

[6] http://www.tibetpolicy.eu/eight-tibetans-killed-in-kardze-new-phase-in-protests-in-tibet/