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Leaked Chinese document details police killings of Tibetans in 2008

August 25, 2014

August 20, 2014 - TCHRD has obtained exclusive information that provides irrefutable evidence that Chinese security forces used disproportionate force including live ammunition and machine guns to kill Tibetans during the March 2008 protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The document obtained by TCHRD contains the list of the names of Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces and whose dead bodies were kept at Lhasa’s Xishan mortuary. The official document also consists of autopsy reports of four Tibetans. Li Wen Zhen and Wang Zhai Shai, both heads of criminal and medical examination department of the Lhasa Public Security Bureau performed the autopsy. This internal document was prepared on 21 March 2008 and is titled “Document of the criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa.” Despite official Chinese pronouncement on the contrary, the document serves as concrete evidence that Chinese security forces killed Tibetans in different localities in Lhasa city during the initial protests in March 2008 that ignited the 2008 Uprising in large parts of the Tibetan plateau.

I. The declaration that lethal weapons were not used is a lie

After the mass uprising against Chinese rule by Tibetans in 2008, many Tibetans in Tibet released information to the international media about the large scale killing of Tibetan protesters by Chinese security forces armed with machine guns and armored vehicles. Similarly, during a visit by foreign journalists and foreign diplomats on 28 March 2008 to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, a group of monks bore witness to Chinese repression by tearfully repudiating official propaganda in public risking everything. One of the monks even said that he saw the body of a Tibetan shot dead by the Chinese security forces.

However, during an official Chinese press conference organized on 17 March 2008 in Beijing, Jampa Phuntsok, then governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) said, “In this smashing and looting activities, the security forces [Public Security Bureau and People’s Armed Police] have not used lethal weapons. They have never shot protestors.” Further, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Qin Gang, and the spokesperson of the Central Public Security Bureau Tian Hai Mien and other Chinese officials also told Chinese and foreign press that lethal weapons had not been used against the protesters in Lhasa, and that they exercised every possible restraint in dealing with the [protesters].

The official document in possession of TCHRD tells a different story. It contains the names of Tibetans who died during the March 2008 protest. There were 22 dead Tibetans kept at Xishan mortuary in Lhasa, in addition to four other Tibetans, whose autopsy reports were included in the internal document. The total number of dead according to this document alone is 26. Of them 15 died from gunshot wounds, out of which 11 were confirmed as Tibetan, while the identity of the other 4 remains unknown at the moment. The document contains information not just about dead Tibetans, but also about where and when they had been killed, the places where their bodies were found.

Most of the Tibetans were killed on 14 March 2008, in localities such as at the intersection of 2nd Lubug Street, the Ramoche Temple, Ching Phin guesthouse, fifth division of the construction factory near Ramoche Temple, Goten Hospital for Nuns at Barkor, near Tengyeling, Gaden Khangsar, and on the street in front of Serkhang guesthouse at Beijing Road.

The autopsy reports on the four Tibetans  show that one of them had received 17 gun shot wounds while two women were shot 15 times and eight times respectively. Most of the gunshot wounds were found on their hearts, chests and feet. All of these make clear that the Chinese security forces used machine guns while dealing with the peaceful protestors.

II. Manipulating the names of Tibetans shot dead in protest

On 1 April 2008, at about 4 pm, the central PSB of the People’s Republic of China organized a press conference during which the deputy head of the PSB, Wu Yi Phen, released the names of some Tibetans allegedly involved in arson attacks on shops including 12 persons who died in the attack as well as the death of six other innocent people during the 14 March 2008 protest in Lhasa. Their identities, according to the PSB, were He Jian Shu, a 60-yr-old Chinese from Sichuan; Gao Mou, a 30-yr-old Chinese from Gansu; Lhakpa Tsering, a 30-yr-old Tibetan from Lhasa municipality; Wangdu Dargay, a 24-yr-old Tibetan from Damshung County, Lhasa; and two other people, whose nationality had not been confirmed.

According to the deputy head of central PSB, the above-mentioned six innocent persons died in arson attacks. But according to the secret internal document in possession of TCHRD, Lhakpa Tsering died of gunshot wounds. He was shot on 14 March 2008 at the intersection of 2nd Lubug Street. His body was found at 5 pm on 17 March 2008, from a house located at 11 Avenue, 2nd Lubug Street. Similarly the document shows that Wangdu Dargye also died of gunshot wounds on 14 March 2008, although it remains unknown where he was shot. But the document explicitly mentions that his body was recovered at around 12.10 pm on 16 March 2008 from 5th division of the construction factory near Ramoche Temple.

The document also refers to two men who were shot dead, but their nationality remains unknown. All the information revealed in the secret document confirms the killing of Tibetan protestors by the Chinese security forces, and lay bare the attempts by Chinese government to put the blame for violence witnessed during the March 2008 protest on the heads of the Tibetan people. In short, the Chinese government made use of all sorts of propaganda and lies in both the domestic and international media, using video footages and photographs of Tibetans smashing police cars and windows of houses, to manipulate the views of domestic and international audience and thus project the Tibetan uprising as violent.

III. Evidence proves police killed at least hundred Tibetans

After the suppression of the March 2008 protests in Lhasa, the Chinese government declared that 382 people and 242 security officers had been injured, and that these injuries were caused by the ‘illegal’ acts of the protestors. What the Chinese government did not disclose was the number of protestors who had died at the hands of security forces.

During a visit to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa by foreign journalists and officials of foreign embassies from Beijing, a group of Tibetan monks had openly declared that all the statements coming from the Chinese government were baseless and lies, and that more than a hundred Tibetans were killed and another thousand arrested.

In the afternoon of the same day, Pema Thinley, then deputy party secretary of TAR, while speaking to journalists from Hong Kong, had said: “I will clarify to you with full responsibility. So far, three criminals have died, some of them while fleeing arrest jumped from the rooftops, and died soon after they were hospitalized. Some of the criminals were injured, so whatever statements the monks had given are all baseless and untrue.”

This internal document obtained by  TCHRD bears four numbers: 92, 93, 94, 101. The numbers were used to identify each of the four Tibetans on whom autopsy was done. A critical examination of the four numbers confirms the statements made to the foreign journalists and embassy officials by the monks at Lhasa’s Tsuglakhang temple: that no less than 101 Tibetans had been massacred by the Chinese security forces during the 2008 uprising. During a press conference organized by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamsala (India), Thubten Samphel, the then secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations of CTA had said that from March 2008 to January 2009, more than 220 Tibetans had been beaten to death by security forces in Tibet. The exile Tibetan official also said that about 1294 Tibetans had been injured, about 5600 arrested, and more than 219 disappeared.

IV. Extrajudicial Killings: Tibetans killed during arrests and interrogations

On 12 December 2011, the Department of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration released video footages of Chinese police SWAT teams and paramilitary troops carrying out raids at Tibetan homes and arresting Tibetans in March 2008 in Dogde Township near Lhasa. The teams conducting the raids included Chinese security forces and police personnel from PSB, People’s Armed Police, Special Forces, and border security troops, all holding machine guns, electric batons and other assault weapons. They also used sniper dogs during the raids when Tibetans suspected of participating in the 2008 protests were arbitrarily arrested from their homes. The video footages showed security forces brutally beating and assaulting Tibetans.

The secret document that TCHRD acquired recently also reveals information about the killing of another Tibetan man at about 8 pm on 16 March 2008. The autopsy reports, on which the secret report was based, show that the dead man whose height was 1.7 meters tall was a native of Village No. 2 of Dogde Township near Lhasa, and he died after he was shot on his waist, just above his buttocks, as bullets emerged from the front of his waist. The video that was released by the CTA and the autopsy report on the dead Tibetan from Dogde raise legitimate suspicions that the Chinese security forces used random shootings and disproportionate force.

V. Failure of Chinese government to account for its crimes in Tibet

Since 2008 protests, the Chinese government has intensified its repression of the Tibetan people, deploying its security forces in all areas of Tibet particularly in Lhasa, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi), Drango (Ch: Luhuo), Sertha (Ch: Seda), to intensify repression and control. According to TCHRD’s 2008 annual report, during the 2008 protests, at least 120 known Tibetans were killed, with more than 6500 arrested and more than 190 sentenced to prison. Not only the Chinese government refused to admit to extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests, but it went on a propaganda drive to blame all the violence on Dalai Lama and the exile Tibetans.

As the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said during a press conference: “the riots were instigated systematically by the Dalai clique, and we have concrete evidence to prove this.” Although all the blame was put on the Dalai Lama, exile Tibetans and supporters of the Tibetan cause, the Chinese government has failed to produce concrete evidence that the protests were indeed instigated by the Dalai Lama and exile Tibetans.

VI. Brief information on 15 Tibetans killed by security forces, as contained in the secret document 

1. Lhakpa Tsering, Tibetan, male, 32 years old, born in Lhasa. He was shot at 2nd Lubug Street on 14 March 2008. His body was recovered at around 5 pm on 17 March 2008 from his house at No. 11, 2nd Lubug Street.

2. Dejung, Tibetan, male, 41 years old, born in Phusum Township, Nyemo County. He was shot at on 17 March 2008 at an undisclosed location. His body was recovered at around noon on 17 March 2008, from his home located at No. 5, 6th Lubug Street.

3. Tenzin Dolker, Tibetan, female, 20 years old, born in Lhasa. She was shot on 14 March 2008 on the road just across the Serkhang guesthouse on Lhasa’s Beijing Road. Her body was recovered at 12.30 pm from her home at House No. 9, Tengyeling, Barkor, on 18 March 2008.

4. Pentrug, Tibetan, male, 20 years old, born in Gyabrag village, Tsongdu Township, Lhundrup County. He was shot on 14 March 2008 at an undisclosed location. His body was recovered at 11. 40 pm on 16 March 2008 from within the compound of House No. 10, 1st Gangden Khangsar Street.

5. Tashi Tsering, Tibetan, male, 44 years old, born in Jhakhyung township, Bathang County, Sichuan province. He was shot on 14 March 2008 near Ramoche Temple in Lhasa. His body was recovered at 2 pm on 18 March 2008 from House No. 43, Group 1 of Gyatso neighborhood in Lhasa.

6. Wangdu Dhargye, Tibetan, male, around 24 years old. He was a driver by profession and born in Nyingdrong Township, Damshung County, Lhasa. He was shot at an undisclosed location on 14 March 2008. His body was recovered at 12.10 pm on 16 March 2008 from a construction factory near Ramoche Temple.  

7. Anonymous, Tibetan, male, 1.7 meters tall in height. Information on his birthplace and the time he was shot remains unknown. His body was recovered at around 8 pm on 16 March 2008 at a hill near Village No. 2, Dogde Township near Lhasa.

8. Anonymous, Tibetan, female, 1.5 meters tall in height. Her body was recovered near Ching Phin hotel/guesthouse, Lhasa.

9. Anonymous, Tibetan, female, 1.54 meters tall in height. Her body was recovered in the afternoon of 14 March 2008 near Ching Phin guesthouse in Lhasa.

10. Anonymous, Tibetan, male, 1.84 meters tall in height. His body was recovered in the afternoon of 14 March 2008 near Ching Phin guesthouse, Lhasa.

11. Anonymous, male, nationality and birthplace remain unknown. He was shot on 14 March 2008 at Ching Phin guesthouse near Ramoche Temple. His body was recovered the same day near Ching Phin guesthouse, Lhasa.

12. Anonymous, female, nationality and birthplace remain unknown. She was shot on 14 March 2008 at Ching Phin guesthouse near Ramoche Temple. Her body was found the same day near Ching Phin guesthouse, Lhasa.

13. Anonymous, male, nationality and birthplace remain unknown. His body was found on 16 March 2008 near Tsuklakhang temple, Lhasa.

14. Anonymous, female, nationality and birthplace remain unknown. She was shot on 14 March 2008 at Ching Phin guesthouse near Ramoche temple. Her body was found the same day near Ching Phin guesthouse near Ramoche Temple, Lhasa.

15. Anonymous, female. Information on her birthplace and the exact time she was shot remains unknown. although she was shot on 14 March 2008. Her body was recovered at Goten Hospital for Nuns (?) on 16 March 2008.

VII. Translation of Autopsy reports on four Tibetans prepared by the Lhasa PSB

Victim 1

The report (092), 2008 is a secret Chinese internal document prepared by criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa. The Lhasa PSB ordered the autopsy at 10.30 am on 20 March 2008, and it was performed at 12 pm on the same day. And the autopsy was conducted at Xishan mortuary, Lhasa. The identity of the victim on whom the autopsy was conducted remains unknown, but his nationality is Tibetan.

He was wearing a black shirt with a red collar, green undershirt, a red woolen jacket, white underwear, and white and red striped sneakers. He had normal healthy body, with a height of 1.84 meters. On the victim’s back, just on the right side of the shoulder, and on his right leg [probably thigh] he had 17 circular injury marks, resembling bullet wounds. Most of the bullets were pumped on the chest. Looking at the condition of the victim’s body, it appears he died 5 or 6 days before the autopsy. The most serious injuries were caused on the victim’s right side of the body, and bullets caused the injury marks. In short, the victim was shot on the right side of his body, and the bullets went straight into his chest, causing his death.

Victim 2

The report (093), 2008 is a secret Chinese internal document prepared by criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa. The Lhasa PSB ordered the autopsy at 10.30 am on 20 March 2008, and it was performed at 12 pm on the same day. And the autopsy was conducted at Xishan mortuary, Lhasa. The identity of the victim on whom the autopsy was conducted remains unknown, but her nationality is Tibetan.

The woman died near the Ching Phin guesthouse on 14 March 2008. As requested, an autopsy was performed on her. The victim was wearing green and yellow t-shirt, a grey under-shirt, grey denim trousers and black boots. She was 1.5 meters tall and possessed a healthy body. She had burn injury marks resembling bullet wounds on the back of her left shoulder, on top of her left breast, just above and below the left side of her buttocks, on her left arms and on her vagina. Based on the condition of the victim’s body, she died five or six days before the autopsy. Secondly, the injury was caused mostly on the front part of her body, and the injury marks clearly reveal that she was shot with live bullets. Thirdly, it appears that she died after the bullets went through her chest, destroying her entrails. The victim, whose identity remains unconfirmed, died from bullet injuries.

Victim 3

The report (094) 2008 is a secret Chinese internal document prepared by criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa. The Lhasa PSB ordered the autopsy at 10.30 am on 20 March 2008, and it was performed at 12 pm on the same day. And the autopsy was conducted at Xishan mortuary, Lhasa. The identity of the victim on whom the autopsy was conducted remains unknown, but the victim is female and Tibetan.

The woman died near the Ching Phin guesthouse on 14 March 2008. As requested, an autopsy was performed on her. The victim was wearing a white striped t-shirt, a red under-shirt, yellow jeans trousers, brown striped underpants and white boots. She was 1.45 meters tall and possessed a healthy body. Just below the right breast and on the right side of her stomach, there were six injury marks resembling wounds caused by bullets. Also on the victim’s right hip there were 3 bullet marks, in the middle of the left thigh four bullet marks, on the top and bottom of her right thigh two bullet marks, in total there were 15 bullet marks on her body. Based on the condition of the victim’s body, she died five or six days before the conduct of autopsy. Secondly, the injury was caused mostly on the front part of her body, including her legs, and the injury marks clearly reveal that she was shot with live bullets. Thirdly, it appears that she died after the bullets went through her chest, destroying her entrails. The victim, who remains unidentified, died from bullet injuries.

Victim 4

The report (101) 2008 is a secret Chinese internal document prepared by criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa. The Lhasa PSB ordered the autopsy at 10.30 am on 20 March 2008, and it was performed at 12 pm on the same day. And the autopsy was conducted at Xishan mortuary, Lhasa. The identity of the victim on whom the autopsy was conducted remains unknown, but the victim is male and Tibetan.

The man died around 8 pm on 16 March 2008 near a hill at Village No. 2, Dogde Township near Lhasa. As requested, an autopsy was performed. The victim was 1.70 meters tall and possessed a healthy body. On the left side of the victim’s hip, there is a burned injury mark, resembling wound caused by bullets. Other than this, the victim had no other injury marks. Based on the condition of the victim’s body, he died four or five days before the autopsy was performed. Secondly, the injury was caused mainly on the left hip, and the injury marks clearly reveal that he was shot with live bullets. Thirdly, it appears that the victim died after he was shot at his hips and the bullets went through his chest.

The full report with images of the leaked documents and references, can be viewed here: http://www.tchrd.org/2014/08/leaked-internal-document-shows-china-used-machine-guns-to-kill-tibetans-in-march-2008-protest/#more-3548

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