Chinese Border Patrols Kill 7 Tibetans Fleeing to Freedom

October 7, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: October 7, 2006 12:00 am

CHINA—On Sep.30, Chinese border patrols open-fired on Tibetan refugees who were on their way into exile in Nepal through the Nangpa Pass. Up to seven people were killed. The incident was reported by mountain climbers and a Tibetan lama who resides in India.

According to the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) report, climbers who were atop mountain Cho Oyu, (approximately 20 km west of Mount Everest at the border between Tibet and Nepal), witnessed the Chinese border patrol firing at the Tibetans without any warning. Some of the refugees were children as young as ten. The witnesses reported to ICT through email via satellite.

Radio Free Asia reported, with their source being a lama from north India, that about 70 Tibetans were trying to escape, but in the end only 43 of them made their safe way to Nepal. Seven were shot dead, including a nun and a boy. The lama said his temple held a ceremony for the dead on Oct. 5.

The whereabouts of the 20 remaining Tibetans from the group is not known. A local source said these Tibetans might have been apprehended by Chinese security forces because Chinese military vehicles, including ambulances, had been seen at a road close to the incident location on the same day.

A Chinese Consulate staff member in Nepal indicated that they had not heard of this incident and that the consulate was still on holidays.

According to ICT, each year approximately 2000-3000 Tibetans complete the dangerous Himalayan trek from Tibet via Nepal to the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile located in northern India's Dharamsala.

The Tibetans seek freedom from over 50 years of Chinese occupation. Over 1 million Tibetans are believed to have been killed under the Chinese Communist Party. According to rights groups, torture of Tibetans monks in nuns in Chinese labor camps remains rampant.

The Nepalese government helps the runaway Tibetans to the Tibet Refugee Reception Center, where their transfer to India is arranged. The Chinese authorities have repeatedly protested to the Nepalese government, and demanded that the refugees be repatriated to Tibet.