གཟའ་ཟླ་བ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༠

Development of Recent Unrest in Driru County

The Development of the Recent Unrest in Driru County (Photo:Tibettoday.com)
The Development of the Recent Unrest in Driru County (Photo:Tibettoday.com)

Wu Yingji, the vice party secretary of Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) had led a campaign called, “Making Driru a Peaceful and Friendly Place.” His prolonged tour began on August 23 at Shag Rongwo Monastery in Nagchu County, which lies at the border of Driru and where a protest had broken out earlier this year over a reincarnation issue. By the beginning of September, Mr. Wu, who was accompanied by Dothog, the head of Nagchu Prefecture, moved farther east to Driru, a county which some analysts consider a failed place for Chinese government’s patriotic reeducation campaign.

In their campaign, Mr. Wu and his team pushed harder to make Tibetans follow the party and remember the kindness of the Chinese communist party. However, the outcome of their campaign was a disaster for the Vice Chairman of TAR. On September 28 2013, Chinese officials ordered the Tibetans in Driru to raise Chinese national flags on their houses. Underground Tibetan social media outlets reported that the authorities warned those who disobey the order would be denied the rights to send their children to schools, receive medical treatments in the hospitals, or allowed to collect caterpillar fungus, an extremely expensive medicinal plant that area famously possesses. Despite the warning, Tibetans in Mowa Village, 15 kilometers from the county government seat where Mr. Wu was temporarily based, reportedly dumped the Chinese national flags into the Gyalmo Ngulchu (Salween River). This was followed by a clash between Chinese police and local villagers on the same day as the police went to arrest some Tibetans in the village.

A letter sent out from Tibet said about five to seven soldiers started guarding each house and that Tibetans in the village were not allowed to even go outside to use the bathroom. Some reports said the soldiers themselves raised the flags on the Tibetan houses. Around 7:00pm of the same day, about 800 to 1000 Tibetans gathered outside the county government and staged a set down protest. Some exiled Tibetans who have close connection in the area described this as a “24 hour hunger strike” and that people were laying on the roads to block military vehicles. The next morning about 40 Tibetans from nearby villages went to appeal the Chinese troops to withdrawing from Mowa Village, but they were detained and beaten up. The protesters outside the county government then started calling for the release of the 40 Tibetans. Later that night, Mr. Wu, some say it was Dothog, promised to release the 40 Tibetans in turn asked the protesters to withdraw, and they did.

“They were photographed from every side of their bodies and their fingerprints were taken before they were released,” said Tashi Gyaltsen, a Tibetan in India who is from the area. Reports filed by several exiled Tibetans said the people were severely injured from police beating during their detention and that they, like other villagers, were not allowed to leave their homes to get medical treatment after their release. Among them was Tsering Gyaltsen, who received medical treatment a week later in People’s Hospital in Lhasa on October 6th. On October 3, Wu and Dothog met with armed police force in Driru for two days, according to Tibet Radio. Mr. Wu then thanked the forces for “protecting the Grand Home.” “By striking hard on [those who engage] criminal activities to harm national security and social stability, and by putting all power for the society, peace and stability, the celebration [of the National Founding Day] for all nationalities should be protected,” he added, according to the Tibet Radio.

Two days later, on October 6 2013, Chinese troops fired at a crowd of Tibetans in Dhathang Township, about 68 kilometers northwest of Driru county seat. A man named Tragyal was shot on his leg and another man Lobsang Wangchen was shot on his face. Exiled Tibetans from the area reported that as many as 60 people were injured from shooting and beating. The phone lines and internet are effectively blocked in the area and exiled Tibetans from Driru say it is impossible to get news from the area at the moment, but that arrests and disappearance of Tibetans are continuously taking place in every parts of the county. An underground report received by exile Tibetans stated names of at least eight people including writers, business men, monks, and a nomad woman who have been arrested after the shooting took place.

“Currently people are continuously disappearing and arrested, but it is hard to receive their names,” said Tashi Gyaltsen. As reports of arrest in connection to sharing information about the incident in Driru emerge, Reporters Without Borders condemned Chinese authorities for making Tibet an “information black hole” on October 17, 2013.

Chinese authorities imposed higher restriction on the movement of the people from three eastern counties of Nagchu Prefecture, which includes Driru. A leaked internal handbook of police stations in Lhasa shows secret codes that were being used for the people from Sog, Drachen, and Driru counties in order to monitor their movements in Lhasa.