A group of ethnic Tibetans trying to flee Tibet were shot dead by Chinese troops on September 30, at a Himalayan pass near the border of China and Nepal (Tibet is an "autonomous region" of China, having been taken over by the PRC in the 1950s). Reports are emerging that Communist party officials have attempted to silence witnesses, including Western trekkers who were in the area when the killing occurred. Snip from The Independent:
Chinese diplomats in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu are tracking down and trying to silence hundreds of Western climbers and Sherpas who witnessed the killing of Tibetan refugees on the Nangpa La mountain pass last week. This ominous development comes as fears grow for the safety of a group of Tibetan children, aged between six and 10, who were marched away after at least two refugees including a nun, were shot dead.Link to article. See also related coverage of the incident on The Adventure Blog, GoBlog, MountEverest.net, and The Piton.
Today, a Romanian television network released a video said to show PRC guards fatally shooting one of the refugees. Snip from Associated Press report:
The video from Pro TV shows a distant figure that its narrator says is a Chinese border guard firing a rifle and a separate scene of a person in a line of figures walking through the snow falling to the ground. An unidentified man near the camera can be heard saying in English, "They are shooting them like, like dogs." Pro TV, Romania's biggest private TV station, said the video was shot Sept. 30 by Sergiu Matei, a Romanian cameraman with an expedition climbing Cho Oyu, a Himalayan peak near China's border with Nepal. The activist group International Campaign for Tibet, in a written statement, said the video proves Chinese troops fired at unarmed Tibetans and disproves Beijing's statement this week that its forces acted in self-defense after being attacked.Here is a link to a video clip of the shooting on Pro TV's website (warning: graphic violence), and here is the network's interview with the man who videotaped the incident (pop-up ads abound on the site).
Adam of the adventure travel website Getoutdoors.com says,
The Agence-France Presse has picked the story up and is reporting that the Chinese claim their soldiers acted in self defense. Right. The nuns and kids tried to kill them in a barrage of snowballs.Snip from AFP story:
China admitted that its soldiers killed a person who was trying to flee Tibet, but the official account contradicted eyewitness reports that the troops had shot at unarmed refugees.More about the video here, at International Campaign for Tibet's website. The group reports that the refugee children are now in Chinese custody: Link. Here is a photo of the body of the Tibetan nun who was shot.
The state-run Xinhua news agency released a short report of the September 30 incident that occurred near Mt Everest, saying soldiers had found nearly 70 people trying to illegally cross the Tibetan border into Nepal.
The soldiers tried to persuade the group to go back home, according to Xinhua, which was citing an unnamed Tibetan government official. "But the stowaways refused and attacked the soldiers," Xinhua said.
When I traveled to this region earlier this year, I heard personal accounts of incidents like this from Tibetans who crossed the border to refugee camps in India. If their stories are to be believed, what is remarkable about this incident is not that it occurred, but that it receiving any attention in the West at all. (thanks, Adam)