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Tibet movement expresses shock as Chinese police open fire on Dalai Lama's birthday

July 09, 2013

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


Tibet movement expresses shock at violent response to peaceful gathering

Incident casts doubt on speculation of policy relaxation in Tibetan areas


8 July 2013


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, two Tibetan monks were shot in the head; Tashi Sonam from Nyitso monastery and Ugyen Tashi (also known as Tashi Gyaltsen) who is said to be in a critical condition in hospital in Chengdu, the Sichuan provincial capital. 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].


"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)

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)


International Tibet Network Member Groups


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

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


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 Blance, France

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

Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg

TSG Free Tibet And You

Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France  

Vrienden Van Tibet

Autodétermination-Tibet 09/31

Tibetan Community of Italy

Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring vzw

Lungta Association Belgium


Northern Europe:

Association of Free Tibet  

Friends of Tibet in Finland

Students for a Free Tibet Denmark

Swedish Tibet Committee

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

Savet Tibet Foundation

Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship

Students for a Free Tibet, Poland

The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia

Tibetan Association of Slovakia

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 (Formally Foundation Dharmaling)

Union Latvija Tibetai (Latvia for Tibet )

Zida Cels, Latvia


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 Philadephia

Tibetan Association of Santa Fe

Tibetan Association of Southern California

Tibetan Cultural Association - Quebec


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

Friends of Tibet in Costa Rica (Lupita)

World League for Freedom and Democracy



Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India

Circle of Friends (Philippines)

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)

December 31, 2020

Canada Tibet Committee Hosts Virtual Roundtable with Former Canadian Ambassador to China

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