Uploaded on Mar 4, 2008
KATHMANDU—Members of a group of 43 Tibetans have described their terrifying flight to Nepal under deadly fire from Chinese border guards who took several dozen other Tibetans into custody.
Witnesses said at least one person was killed and at least one wounded by gunfire Sept. 30 near the Himalayan pass at Nangpa La in the Mount Everest region. Others set the death toll higher. Another 36 or 37 Tibetans were detained, witnesses told RFA's Tibetan service.
The group, which originally numbered around 80 Tibetans, began their journey out of Chinese-controlled Tibet on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, according to members of the group—41 asylum-seekers and two Tibetan escorts—who arrived in Kathmandu on Oct. 10.
"When the Chinese fired at us, I was so tense and frightened. It is still difficult for me to explain what happened," one man said in an interview after arriving at the Tibetan Reception Center in Kathmandu.
"It was so tense and confusing that I just thought of staying alive and escaping. I couldn't think of anything else or help the others."
"I think the Chinese fired for about 15 minutes. I felt bullets whizzing past my ears. In fact I felt about five bullets pass by me and luckily they missed me. I was so frightened that I crawled in the snow using my hands and feet. The snow was about knee-deep," he said.
The man, who asked not to be named, said the group initially thought the gunshots were fireworks, because there were many Western visitors who had come to climb the mountains in the area.
"I thought they were playing with fireworks. But then we realized it was gunshots and about 30 to 40 rounds were fired. In the confusion, we split into two groups. Those of us who were in the front managed to escape and the later group of about 30 or more Tibetans could not escape," he said.
Another Tibetan, who hid in the mountains for two nights before crossing into Nepal, said: "I saw a small child...There was another young boy who was shot in the foot and an old man. They were detained in the area until late afternoon and then the Chinese police took them away."
"Those who escaped later saw the body of the nun who was killed. She was Kalsang Namtso, 17 years old from Ngachu Dri-ru (in Chinese, Biru Xian) county. They gave a local yak herder 100 yuan and asked him to take body away but we heard that he didn't do it. So we don't know what happened later," the second man said.
A Western climber who witnessed the incident told RFA's Tibetan service that two others in his group had been contacted by the Chinese Embassy in Nepal and asked to attend a meeting there.
"They have since left Nepal and gone home" without visiting the Chinese Embassy, the climber said