Police opened fire on Tibetans protesting against religious repression in China today, killing at least one person and injuring more than 30 others, local monks and rights groups said.
Citing a local government statement, the official Xinhua news agency confirmed one protester was killed in Sichuan province’s Luhuo county (Dragko or Draggo in Tibetan) in a clash with police, but did not mention shootings.
The demonstration on the first day of the Chinese New Year comes at a tense time in China’s Tibetan-inhabited regions, where 16 people have set fire to themselves in less than a year – including four this month alone.
According to three different monks at Drakgo Monastery – one of the largest in the area – thousands of people marched to the local police station this morning to call for religious freedom and to protest local corruption.
“Around 2 pm, the police fired into the crowd from the windows. One person died and 32 were injured, and the crowd dispersed around three hours later,” the monks, who would not be named, told AFP.
They relayed each other over the phone to tell the story in halting Mandarin.
Rights groups with contacts in the area and the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile also confirmed the incident took place.
“The protest turned violent at around 2 pm, as the crowd began attacking a police station with clubs and stones,” it said.
“One protester was killed in the following clash with the police, which also left five officers injured,” it added.
Beijing blames the Dalai Lama – who fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and is vilified as a “separatist” by Communist authorities – for much of the unrest in Tibetan-inhabited regions.
Thanks for the New Year wishes!