On Oct. 6, Chinese army troops fired on peaceful protesters in the Tibetan county of Driru, with around 60 injured. The protesters had gathered to demand the release of a villager arrested in connection with a campaign aimed at forcing residents to fly the Chinese flag atop their houses.
The shooting was reported by the advocacy group Free Tibet and by Radio Free Asia, which cited local sources. Free Tibet reported that 60 were “thought to be” injured in the shooting, while Radio Free Asia reported “at least 60.”
Free Tibet reports a local resident as saying, “it seems like the Chinese Cultural Revolution has restarted in Kham-Driru.”
“Thousands of officials had flooded the area earlier in September to impose a ‘political re-education’ campaign on the local population,” according to a Free Tibet press release. “On Sept. 28, after being instructed to fly Chinese flags over their houses, Tibetans in Mowa Township threw the flags into the river,” Free Tibet said.
The release said authorities then sent paramilitary and police forces in large numbers to the area. “In subsequent clashes around 40 Tibetans were arrested and many were severely beaten and injured.”
A Tibetan named Dorjee Dagtsel was identified by Chinese as a leader in the flag protests and arrested. On Oct. 6 Tibetans gathered at the local government office and asked for his release. “Security forces started beating the Tibetans causing severe injuries, deployed tear gas and fired indiscriminately into the crowd,” said Free Tibet.
The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile is aware of the firing but has yet to get the details. Spokesman Tashi Phuntsok said by phone to the Associated Press that they had heard some protesters were injured but did not know how many.
Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren described the incident as Xi Jinping tightening the “screw” in Tibet. “Over recent months there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of violence by the security forces. While individual self-immolation protests have died down, we have seen significant mass protests throughout Tibet,” she said.
Byrne-Rosengren explained that protests have increased because of indiscriminate exploitation of Tibetan natural resources by Chinese and due to China’s forcible attempts to impose its culture on Tibet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.