Chinese police shoot at Tibetan protesters, one killed
BEIJING CHINESE security forces shot into a crowd of Tibetans in southwestern Sichuan province, killing a 20-yearold student, as protesters sought to prevent the arrest of another youth, Tibetan advocacy groups said on Friday.
Protests by ethnic Tibetans, who accuse Han Chinese authorities of stifling their traditions and religious freedoms, have been gathering pace in the mountainous region since Monday, the start of the Chinese lunar new year.
According to the W a s h i n g t o n - b a s e d International Campaign for Tibet, security forces in Rangtang in Aba prefecture arrested a youth on Thursday, after he put his name and photo on leaflets stating that Tibetan selfimmolations were in support of a free Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama.
Others gathered to try to block his arrest, confronting police, at which point police fired shots into the crowd and killed a youth named Urgen, according to the account.
Over the past year, there have been at least 16 incidents of Tibetans setting themselves on fire in response to Beijing’s grip over Tibetan affairs.
Tibet’s government in exile in Dharamsala in northern India has denounced as “gruesome” the shootings that have killed an estimated 7 people and injured more than 60 in the past week. It has been impossible to verify the accounts independently.
Chinese authorities have set up security checkpoints along roads to the area, more than 200 km (124 miles) west of Chengdu, and reporters have been blocked from entering the region.
Another account, from an exiled Tibetan researcher named Zorgyi who is based in Dharamsala, said the shots were fired during a clash between police and some 1,000 Tibetans who were holding a candlelight vigil after the arrested youth had been pulled free by supporters.
He said as many as 30 others were wounded. A person who answered the phone at the Rangtang police station denied there had been any clash with Tibetans but refused to answer other questions and hung up.