A truly disgusting start to yesterday was reading about climbers in Tibet on Cho Oyu watching the Chinese Army massacre a group of Tibetan Refugees who were trying to cross Nangpa La into Nepal. China claims the soldiers, firing for 15 minutes on the starving refugees were acting in self defense. Do you still feel like going to the Beijing Olympics?
From International Campaign for Tibet, via China Digital Times 中国数字时代 is video from a Romanian cameraman. The video clearly depicts that the Tibetans had their backs to the soldiers, were unarmed, and offered no resistance.
China tries to gag climbers who saw Tibet killings – Leonard Doyle
From the Independent:
Chinese diplomats in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu are tracking down and trying to silence hundreds of Western climbers and Sherpas who witnessed the killing of Tibetan refugees on the Nangpa La mountain pass last week.
This ominous development comes as fears grow for the safety of a group of Tibetan children, aged between six and 10, who were marched away after at least two refugees including a nun, were shot dead. [Full text]
Read a first person account from a Romanian climber who witnessed the killing. More information from climbers is available on Mounteverest.net, though some bloggers feel not enough climbers are coming forward to tell their story.
≈ For more on this story, see “Activist Group Says China Holding Tibetan Children” from VOA and a report from Phayul which includes eyewitness accounts of the incident. From VOA:
A Washington-based activist group says China is holding at least 10 children from a group of Tibetans who were fired on by Chinese security forces near the Tibetan border with Nepal last month.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the International Campaign for Tibet quotes a British mountain climber and several other witnesses who say they saw Chinese forces shoot at a group of about 70 Tibetans on Mount Cho Oyu September 30. The Tibetans are said to have been trying to flee into Nepal.
See also: This topic on the Web, via Google News.
This topic on the blogosphere, via Google Blog Search.
Breaking news: Slovenian climber Pavle Kozjek’s pictures from Nangpa La
6 hours ago ExplorersWeb published a call to the climbing community for pictures related to the Nangpa La shootings. 3 hours back the following email arrived: “Hi, my name is Pavle Kozjek, from Slovenia, and I just returned from Cho Oyu.” Pavle and his expedition opened a new route on the SW face, in a 14,5 hour single-push ascent from ABC to the top – the only climb outside the normal route this season according to Miss Hawley.
But that’s not why Pavle was writing, “I have some photos from 30.9. when the incident occured,” he said.
Pavel, who has the website www.extremekanal.com attached some pics: Above, the body of the Tibetan nun, left in a snow path and below, Chinese officers in ABC with captured Tibetan childen, looking at Nangpa La.
41 Tibetan Nangpa La shooting survivors, all between 7-30 years old, have arrived at the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu. Cared for and interviewed by the International Campaign for Tibet, the refugees report that in addition to the killed nun, a 20 year old boy was wounded in his leg by bullets. Here goes a rerun from last nights story:
Begged for food
An eye witness, a monk, told the Phayul news source that the group begged mountaineers for food after walking for 20 days through Tibet and were eating when 5 soldiers arrived. Shots were fired for about 15 minutes and the refugees ran for their life through knee deep snow.
An American climber reported to ExWeb, “Without warning, shots rang out. Over, and over and over. The line of people started to run uphill – they were at 19,000ft. 2 people were down, and they weren’t getting up.”
A British climber told Save Tibet that climbers “could see Chinese soldiers quite close to Advance Base Camp kneeling, taking aim and shooting, again and again, at the group, who were completely defenceless.”
Filipino climbing doctor Ted Esguerra said he saw at least three people – two women and a man – shot dead.
Romanian climber Sergiu Matei, reported,”The Chinese militias were hunting Tibetans onto the glacier…shooting them like rats, dogs, rabbits – you name it.” Sergiu said that bodies were buried on the glacier in the presence of a lot of climbers, and other people, “like if there was no one there to see it.”
Sergiu wrote that he found one of the refugees hiding in the expedition toilet tent. The climber fed him and gave him warm clothes. Later, the refugee managed to flee over the pass.
After escaping the shooting, the group scrambled for 2 hours across the Nangpa La Pass and walked for 9 days through Nepal before catching a bus to Kathmandu.
None helped kids, few sent alerts
The monk said he don’t know how many were shot in the end, but that 14 kids, aged 8-10, were captured along with 16 young adults. The nun who was killed, was leading the children.
The International Campaign for Tibet organization reported that the captured children were marched in single file through advance base camp at Cho Oyu – as climbers and Sherpas looked on. None of the Westerners tried to help according to the sources.
At the time of the shootings and for several days after, only two climbers alerted about the situation (an American mountain guide mailed ExplorersWeb and the climbing doctor of the Filipino Cho Oyu expedition called the Philippine Daily Inquirer on his satellite phone.)
Reports have said that some commercial outfitters actively persuaded climbers on the mountain to silence. British Independent states that fears for the safety of Western climbers still in Tibet and worries that China will clamp down on profitable climbing operations have meant that news of the incident has been slow to emerge. An American climber told the news source of his revulsion at the failure of other climbers to speak out. “Did it make anyone turn away and go home? Not one,” he said. “People are climbing right in front of you to escape persecution while you are trying to climb a mountain. It’s insane.”
Romanian climber and photographer Alex Gavan reported that big expedition outfitters refused to speak for fear of being banned from the Tibetan side of the Himalayas. “And this will mean no more bucks for them anymore. And they don’t want that, of course. It has indeed nothing to do with the spirit of mountaineering (which has been lost in those commercial outfits) but with the basic human values.”
One of the commercial outfitters mentioned by the Romanian climber is Himex, a large expedition outfit recently involved in a rescue scandal on Everest, where independent climber David Sharp was left dying while 40 climbers stepped past him. The expedition leader claimed lack of knowledge and the expedition guides have since retracted their initial reports that the leader had advised them to climb on.
Chinese diplomats calling climbers for interview
According to the Independent news source, Chinese diplomats in Kathmandu are now tracking down the Western climbers and Sherpas who witnessed the Nangpa La killing. The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu yesterday contacted Steve Lawes, a British police officer who witnessed the shooting, and called him in for interview.
Steve earlier told the International Campaign for Tibet that climbers were probably about 300 yards (900 ft) away from the Chinese who were shooting took place. Half-an-hour later the children were marched through ABC. “The children were in single file, about six feet away from me. They didn’t see us – they weren’t looking around the way kids normally would, they were too frightened. By that time, advance base camp was crawling with soldiers. We were doing our best not to do anything that might spark off more violence.”
(Editors note: It’s important that pictures of the shootings are made public. If anyone has such pictures please mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)
The Tibetan kids and young adults stated they fled to get an opportunity to go to school and practice their religion in peace. The monk said he paid the group guide 4500 Yuan (US$570) for his escape. The average yearly income for a Tibetan herdsman is less than $200 and probably less for a Tibetan Monk. Translating the escape fee to American wages the Tibetan monk paid the equivalent of around $100,000 for his ticket to freedom.