Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Chinese troops suspected of shooting two Tibetan women
Free Tibet Campaign has received reports from a highly reliable source about the shooting of two Tibetan women on 9 August in Ngaba town in Ngaba (Ch: ABA) county.
The two women are Sonam Wangmo, 22, from Tseni township in Lower Ngaba county, who works as a waitress in a teashop, and Zhang Yeying, 28, from Gyarong (Ch: Jiarong), in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Kham (Ch: Sichuan). They were en route to a mobile phone shop at approximately 4:30pm when shots were fired, hitting Sonam Wangmo in the arm and Zhang Yeying in the hand.
Free Tibet Campaign’s source spoke to eyewitnesses who reported hearing four or five shots and stated that the shots appeared to come from a nearby building known to be accommodating troops recently quartered in the town. Tibetans who went to the assistance of the women, reported that Chinese soldiers arrived on the scene shortly after the shots were fired. The witnesses report that the Chinese troops claimed that the firing had been a mistake. The women were taken to the Ngaba County Civil Hospital. Their present medical condition is unknown.
An atmosphere of great fear is reported in Ngaba town, where a 7pm curfew has been in effect since 1 August.
The curfew is being maintained by a five-fold increase in the number of Chinese soldiers based in Ngaba town. It is not known whether the soldiers are from regular People’s Liberation Army (PLA) units or from the People’s Armed Police (PAP). There are reports that checkpoints manned by armed soldiers have been set up on each road in Ngaba town and Tibetans registered in other towns are not being allowed in to Ngaba. The crackdown appears to extend beyond Ngaba town. Eyewitnesses report troops performing military drills (see photos below) on grassland used as pasture for Tibetan nomads from the nearby villages of Jadhe and Chushu, trampling the crops and grass. Most of the guests from the local Ngaba county government were invited to observe the exercise.
Free Tibet Campaign is unable to confirm the reason for the huge influx of troops in Ngaba town, however it is reported that the troops will be there until after the end of the Beijing Olympics, suggesting their purpose is to suppress any protests by Tibetans during the Games.
Ngaba town was the scene of a brutal crackdown by Chinese security forces in March following the outbreak of protests throughout Tibet against Chinese rule. On March 16 Chinese security forces fired live rounds into a crowd of peacefully protesting Tibetans, killing at least 13 according to eyewitnesses(1). The shooting was widely reported in the international media.
Director of Free Tibet Campaign, Stephanie Brigden, said:
“The Chinese government must launch an immediate and open investigation into these shootings.“
Gordon Brown, when he meets President Hu at the Games later this month, must seek an explanation for the military build up and restrictions in Ngaba town and he must publicly condemn the worsening human rights situation in Tibet.
Notes to Editor: