Tibetans Die of Untreated Gunshot Wounds in Custody in China

August 21, 2014 Updated: August 21, 2014

At least five Tibetans have died following a protest last week in the Kardze (Garzê) prefecture in Sichuan Province after paramilitary forces fired into a peacefully protesting crowd, and a local detention center withheld medical treatment for the wounded who were arrested.

Four of the men died from untreated wounds, while the other reportedly killed himself, refusing to undergo further violence at the hands of the police, according to Phayul, a Tibetan news website. The police beat and tortured the detained Tibetans, according to Tibet Post International (TPI). Overseas Chinese media Boxun.com reported further deaths, saying that 11 had died, including Han Chinese paramilitary police.

Of over one hundred who were detained, more than 30 of were monks from a nearby monastery, said Radio Free Asia Cantonese (RFA). 25 were still in custody on Tuesday and at least 15 were seriously wounded.

Hundreds of Tibetans in Shiqu (Sershul), in Kardze county, were protesting for the release of their mayor, who had been arrested the night before, and were symbolically holding their thumbs in the air for mercy when the Chinese paramilitary police opened fire on them on Aug. 12, reported TPI. More than 200 armed police were dispatched to put down the protest, said Radio Free Asia Cantonese.

The Chinese Communist (CCP) authorities had accused the mayor of organizing illegal activities, which included a traditional Tibetan horse racing festival, and unauthorized incense burning and praying. His arrest touched off the protest, reported TPI.

However, a Tibetan source told RFA that the authorities called a town meeting on Monday where they told the townspeople that the mayor’s detention was because of embezzlement of public funds and had nothing to do with horse racing or making incense offerings, and urged them to tell others. The mayor still remains in custody.

Since the protest a large military presence has filled the county, according to local sources calling RFA, with observers estimating about 50 tanks, about 500 military vehicles filled with armed soldiers and guns, and flyovers by warplanes.

China’s armed forces are equipped with modern weapons. They opened fire on the peaceful demonstrations of Tibetans in Tibet, resulting in serious injuries and deaths,” Tibetan People’s Assembly said in a statement.

“Many Tibetans sustained serious injuries and suffered torture, and have died as a result of the unacceptable withholding of proper medical attention. Such inhuman acts of genocide are indeed evil,” continued the statement.