Agam's Gecko
Saturday, October 14, 2006

fter a week of professing no knowledge of the Nangpa La incident, China has finally admitted that its security forces had indeed shot at the refugee group on September 30 -- in self-defense. According to the Chinese government mouthpiece Xinhua news agency, the soldiers "tried to persuade" the group to go back home.
"But the stowaways refused and attacked the soldiers," Xinhua said.

"Under the circumstances, the frontier soldiers were forced to defend themselves and injured two stowaways."

Xinhua said one of them died later in hospital from "oxygen shortage" while another was still receiving medical treatment.
All the accounts, by dozens of climbers as well as those Tibetans who safely reached Kathmandu this week, mark this far-fetched explanation as the typical face-saving nonsense one learns to expect from Chinese officials. Chinese soldiers were kindly persuading, while the aggressive "stowaways" attacked. And the young nun Kalsang Namtso, whose body was left on the pass for over 30 hours, unfortunately died of "oxygen shortage." Other reports gave her cause of death as "altitude sickness." The US embassy in Beijing confirmed Thursday that it had lodged a formal protest to the Chinese government over the shootings.

Romanian climber / cameraman Sergiu Matei (who was quoted here in an earlier posting describing the incident as "open season on Tibetans" as they were shot down "like dogs or rabbits") took this video which was broadcast on Romanian ProTV. The video also includes the Tibetan man who hid from the Chinese in the base camp's toilet, and whom Sergiu protected until the Chinese had left, and then assisted him back out to the pass.

The ProTV newspage is here (in Romanian). [If the embedded video or the ProTV video don't work for you (both use flash format), try here for a wmv.]

The man Sergiu Matei helped that day made it safely to Kathmandu, where he was later interviewed for a story on Radio Free Asia:
“There was no one who fought with the Chinese soldiers. I saw everything and in fact I am only Tibetan who saw everything. I threw my bag on the side of road and entered in the camp of the Western climbers,” said one man, who said he had hidden in a toilet at a mountain-climbing camp.

“I concealed my other stuff behind the tent and put on a cap and stood in the midst of the Western climbers. I saw Chinese [troops] shooting at the Tibetans. All were running as fast as they could in the snow and no body tried to fight back.”
Sergiu Matei is now back in Bucharest. He described finding the frightened man to ICT:
"He was terrified and shaking. I couldn’t think of what to say so I asked him if he was going to see the Dalai Lama, and when he heard those words he put his hands together in prayer. We hid him in the mess tent for several hours and when it seemed to be safe, I took him back onto the pass."
Also quoted in that story is a Czech climbing expedition leader who witnessed the shooting, Josef Simunek, with what I think is an apt comparison:
"We felt as though it was 20 years ago in our country in the Communist time, when Czech soldiers killed Czech citizens in their escape over the ‘Iron Curtain’."
The Iron Curtain is gone, but the Bamboo Curtain still stands, at least where Tibetans are concerned.

As is obvious in this video, the Tibetans were running away from the persuasions of the glorious troops of the motherland -- as much as one can run in knee-deep snow. Kalsang Namtso was clearly shot in the back. The refugees were unarmed and defenseless, hardly equipped nor motivated to attack anyone. The Chinese excuses are pathetic and ridiculous. Shameless, but shame on them anyway.


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