Chinese police opened fire on a group of Tibetan protesters in southwestern China wounding 10 people, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a Tibetan rights group. The Tibetans were protesting against the detention of a village leader.
In Ganzi, the Tibetans had gathered in protest after a village leader identified as Wanda was whisked away from his house and detained by Chinese authorities earlier this week, according to UK-based International Campaign for Tibet, or ICT, which added that Wanda had been a vocal supporter of a traditional Tibetan gathering that Chinese authorities planned to restrict. The gathering takes place at the start of an horse festival, where Tibetans burn incense and offer prayers.
ICT said in a statement on Wednesday, citing several Tibetan sources in exile, that a region that falls in the Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province in China “is now under tight control, with local Tibetans including the elderly and children subject to interrogation.” ICT also said that pictures being circulated on social media showed Tibetans with “serious wounds on the head and torso” after the incident.
Chine is accused of suppressing the religious beliefs and culture of Tibetans ever since the invading People’s Liberation Army enforced its authority on Tibet in 1950. China claims it peacefully liberated the region and has repeatedly rejected criticism by claiming to have ended the age-old tradition of serfdom and has sought to claim credit for modernizing the poverty-stricken region.
China typically does not allow foreign journalists to visit the Himalayan region, making it difficult to verify reports of unrest.
In the past, Ganzi has seen some of the worst violence between Tibetan people and Chinese authorities. At a gathering last year, held to mark the birthday of the exiled Dalai Lama, Chinese police reportedly opened fire on unarmed protesters, shooting two Tibetans in the head and seriously wounding at least another eight.
Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India in 1959 after leading a failed uprising against Chinese authorities that year. The year 2008 saw an eruption of anti-Chinese violence by Tibetans in parts of China with 131 Tibetans setting themselves alight in the areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces.