Chinese People’s Armed Police open fire in Tawu, eastern Tibet, on Dalai Lama’s birthday celebrations; up to nine Tibetans reported to be injured

Tibet movement expresses shock at violent response to peaceful gathering

Incident casts doubt on speculation of policy relaxation in Tibetan areas

Statement Released 9 July 2013:
Update 17 July 2013:

  • Chinese security forces opened fire on a crowd of Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people that had had gathered in the Tawu region of eastern Tibet on 6 July.
  • The gathering was taking place to mark the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday
  • As Tibetans started to leave they were surrounded by armed security forces who prevented them from leaving. Security personnel stopped cars and threw stones at the leading car.
  • When Tibetans attempted to claim that their gathering was legal an argument ensued and some security force personnel began beating a number of Tibetans. Other Tibetans responded by throwing stones.
  • During this altercation, security forces opened fire on the crowd.
  • At least 14 Tibetans were injured durng the incident. Nine are confirmed to have been shot, including Ugyen Tashi, who is said to be in a critical condition with at least eight bullets wounds. At least two Tibetans were severely beaten including 72-year-old Yama Tsering, who was beaten and subjected to shocks from an electric prod.

News is emerging from Tibet that People’s Armed Police (PAP) opened fire on unarmed Tibetans who were holding a picnic in the Tawu region (Ch: Daofu) of Kham, eastern Tibet (now part of Sichuan Province) on 6 July to mark the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, Ugyen Tashi (also known as Tashi Gyaltsen) is said to be in a critical condition in hospital in Chengdu, the Sichuan provincial capital and monk Tashi Sonam from Nyitso monastery was shot in the head. Several other Tibetans were seriously injured and are being treated in Dartsedo (Chinese: Kangding) in Kardze. A number of Tibetans were detained after the incident and at least 20 are believed to still be in custody in Tawu [1]. Tibetan Centre for Human RIghts and Democracy have named nine Tibetans who were injured [1a].

“These harrowing reports and images [2] of Tibetans being shot in connection with a local celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday have shaken the Tibet movement to the core,” said Tenzin Jigme, International Coordinator of the International Tibet Network, a coalition of 185 Member Groups [3]. “Tawu has seen five fatal self-immolation protests by Tibetans [4], suggesting intense frustration in this area. This most recent example [5] of disproportionate lethal force from Chinese security personnel will do nothing but further aggravate the fundamental grievances of the Tibetan people.”

Exile sources say that local residents had joined monks from Nyitso monastery and nuns from Ganden Choeling nunnery, in a grassland area outside the village when PAP arrived on the scene and ordered the gathering to disperse. A stand-off developed after Tibetans refused to leave and PAP opened fire and used tear gas. In addition to Tashi Sonam and Ugyen Tashi, exile sources have named at least three of the other Tibetans who were seriously injured [6]. There are unconfirmed reports that in some other areas of eastern Tibet gatherings for the Dalai Lama’s birthday were not stopped, although security forces were present.

“This incident in Tawu represents a major test to the international community’s commitment to stand up for the rights of the Tibetan people to peacefully promote their national and religious identity,” added Tenzin Jigme. “The Tibetan people urgently need a show of diplomatic strength from world governments, in the form of a multilateral initiative that will impress upon China the legitimate international concerns about Tibet.”

The Tawu incident follows reports of discussions in some localities in eastern Tibet that had raised hopes of a possible relaxation of China’s hard-line attitude towards Tibetan reverence of the Dalai Lama. Whilst it is known that discussions have taken place in some Tibetan areas of Qinghai Province, during which it was proposed that Tibetans may be given permission to display photos and official vilification of the Dalai Lama could end, there has so far been no confirmation that such measures have been officially sanctioned or implemented [7]. Indeed, on 28 June a Chinese official from the State Administration for Religious Affairs denied that there had been any change to official policy [8], giving rise to concerns that local policy experiments might be closed down. There is no evidence that such policy discussions have extended to central Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region) and several sources from Ganden monastery including award-winning writer Tsering Woeser, who recently visited the monastery, have confirmed that photos of the Dalai Lama are not allowed there [9].

1. See “Tibetan monks shot as police open fire on Tibetans praying on Dalai Lama’s birthday”, International Campaign for Tibet (8 July 2013)
1a. See “Tibetans in critical condition after Chinese armed police shoot into crowd celebrating Dalai Lama’s birthday”, TCHRD (9 July 2013)
2. (Graphic) images are visible in the report “Tibetan monk shot in the head, Others severely injured for the Dalai Lama’s birthday prayers”, Phayul (8 July 2013),+Others+severely+injured+for+the+Dalai+Lama%E2%80%99s+birthday+prayers
3. The International Tibet Network is a global coalition of more than 185 Tibet Groups dedicated to ending the human rights abuses in Tibet and restore the political rights to the Tibetan people. See
4. The five self-immolations in Tawu were Tsewang Norbu, a monk from Nyitso monastery (August 2011), Palden Choetso, a nun from Ganden Choeling nunnery (November 2011), religious figure Thubten Nyandak and his niece, Atse, a nun, who died in a fire at their residence (April 2012) that was later confirmed to have been a deliberate decision to end their lives, and a further nun, Wangchen Dolma, who self-immolated at Nyitso monastery. on 11 June 2013. See
5. Compilation of media reports of other recorded instances of shootings in Tibet since January 2012 See also “Resistance in Tibet – Self Immolation and Protest”, International Tibet Network
6. See 2.
7. New Challenges to Tibet Policy from Inside Tibet, International Campaign for Tibet (27 June 2013) – . Tibetans in eastern Tibet were able to display photos of the Dalai Lama before 2008 and again in the last two-three years, though without official permission.
8. See
9. See (in Chinese)

Signed by Member Groups of the International Tibet Network:

Western Europe
Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
Association Dorje
Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
Association Rencontres Tibetaines – C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees
Associazione Italia -Tibet
Austrian Committee for Tibet
Autodétermination-Tibet 09/31
Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
Caisse d’Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains
Casa del Tibet – Spain
Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Les Lilas)
Corse – Tibet
Eco-Tibet France
EcoTibet Ireland
France Tibet
Free Tibet
Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal
International Campaign for Tibet Deutschland
International Campaign for Tibet Europe
International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter (IGFM)
Jamtse Thundel Association
La Porte du Tibet, Geneva
Les Amis du Tibet – Belgium
Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
Lions Des Neiges Mont Blanc, France
Lungta Association Belgium
Maison des Himalayas
Maison du Tibet – Tibet Info
Nice Tibet
Nos Amis de l’Himalaya
Objectif Tibet
Passeport Tibetain
Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara
Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet
Save Tibet, Austria
Society for Threatened Peoples International
Solidarite Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – France
Students for a Free Tibet – UK
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association (GSTF)
Tibet 59 / 62
Tibet Democratie
Tibet Initiative Deutschland
Tibets Kinder im Exile V.
Tibet Liberte Solidarite
Tibet Libertes, France
Tibet Society, U.K.
Tibet Support Group – Ireland
Tibet Support Group – Netherlands
Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein
Tibetan Association of Germany
Tibetan Community Austria
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan Community in Ireland
Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
Tibetan Youth UK
TSG Free Tibet And You
Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
Vrienden Van Tibet
Tibetan Community of Italy
Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring vzw

Northern Europe
Association of Free Tibet
Friends of Tibet in Finland
Swedish Tibet Committee
SFT Denmark
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tibet Support Committee Denmark
Tibetan Community in Denmark
Tibetan Community Sweden

Central & Eastern Europe
Fair Society o.s.
Friends of Tibet Slovakia
Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia
International Youth Human Rights Group – Human Rights in Tibet
Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation
Polish Movement for a Free Tibet
Save Tibet Foundation
Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship
Students for a Free Tibet, Poland
The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia
Tibet cesky (Tibet in Czech)
Tibet Support Association – Hungary
Tibet Support Group – Krasnodar Region, Russia
Tibet Support Group – Romania
Tibet Support Group – Sochi Region, Russia
Tibetan Community in Poland
Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation
TSG – Slovenia
Union Latvija Tibetai (Latvia for Tibet )
Zida Cels, Latvia
Tibetan Association of Slovakia

North America
Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
Colorado Friends of Tibet
Committee of 100 for Tibet
CTC – Calgary
Dhokam Chushi Gangdruk
International Campaign for Tibet
International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet
Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
San Diego Friends of Tibet
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Snow Lion Foundation
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – Canada
The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
The World Tibet Day Foundation
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Center
Tibetan Association of Ithaca
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Tibetan Association of Philadelphia
Tibetan Association of Santa Fe
Tibetan Association of Southern California
Tibetan Cultural Association – Quebec
Tibet Oral History Project
Toronto Tibet Youth Congress
United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT)
U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
Wisconsin Tibetan Association

Central and South America
Amigos del Tibet, El Salvador
Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana
Asociación Cultural Tibetano – Costarricense
Casa Tibet Mexico
Centro De Cultura Tibetana – Brazil
Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile
Grupo Pro-Cultura Tibetana, Chile
Le Club Francais – Paraguay
Pensando En Tibet – Mexico
Tibet Group-Panama
Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
Fundación Pro Tibet – Argentina
Friends of Tibet in Costa Rica
World League for Freedom and Democracy

Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India
Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India
Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet
Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet
India Tibet Friendship Society
Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)
Lung-Ta Project
Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement
National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
National Democratic Party of Tibet
Raise Tibetan Flag Campaign
Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
SFT Japan
SFT India
Students for a Free Tibet – Bangladesh
Taiwan Friends of Tibet
Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation
The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan
Tibet Lives, India
Tibet Philippines Support Network
Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh
Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
Tibet Support Network Japan
Tibetan Student Association, Madras (TSAM)
Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre
Tibetan Rights and Freedom Committee (TRFRC)
Tibetan Women’s Association (Central)
Tibetan Youth Congress
Japan Committee of 100 for TIbet
Ns3 Rigpa Community Builder’s Foundation
Anterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog Samiti

A.C.T. Tibet Support Group
Australia Tibet Council
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand