Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Rare Photos of Chinese Crackdown in Tibet Emerge from Scene of Recent Shooting

February 5, 2012

For Immediate Release
February 2, 2012

Tenzin Dorjee, +1 707 836 3677
Lhadon Tethong +1 347 829 9059

Full series of low resolution images are available for download here:

High resolution images are available for download here:

New York/Dharamsala - Rare photos have emerged from Tibet, piercing China’s media blackout, showing a violent Chinese police response to the protest in Serta town in the Kham region of eastern Tibet (Ch: Seda, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Region, Sichuan Province) where at least one Tibetan, and possibly up to five, was shot dead and numerous others injured on January 24, 2012.

The series of photos include a group of Chinese police dragging two unarmed and injured Tibetans towards the police station and beating one of the men with batons. The whereabouts and well-being of the two men are unknown. In other photos, at least two dozen Chinese police can be seen in formation running towards Tibetan protesters, while protest leaflets in the form of traditional prayer flags (Tib: Lungta རླུང་རྟ་) can be seen scattered across the street.

“These chilling photos show Chinese police viciously beating unarmed and injured Tibetans,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “We know that this harrowing scene playing out in the images from Serta is being repeated across Tibet as Tibetans are attacked and harassed by Chinese authorities for simply advocating their basic rights and freedom.”

“The story of violence and repression that these photos tell is hugely significant, especially given the Chinese authorities’ attempt to enforce a complete media blackout in order to prevent any outside witnesses from seeing the unrest and their violent response,” added Tenzin Dorjee.

On the same day these photos were taken, Chinese police opened fire on approximately 300 protesters who had gathered around 10:00 am in the town center. The crowd called for the return of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan freedom. At least one protester was shot dead by security forces and several more were injured.

“If the Chinese authorities have a genuine interest in reducing tensions in Tibet, there is a simple solution: dismantle the checkpoints, withdraw the troops, and respect Tibetans’ basic rights,” said Lhadon Tethong, Director of the Tibet Action Institute.

News of the protest, as well as the photos, was received from Tibet by Serta Thupten, a former resident of Serta who fled after taking part in pro-freedom protests in 2008.

“When I heard the news [of the protest], I felt as if I were back in Tibet. The police responded with the same violence and repression in 2008 when we took to the streets to demand freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. The situation will be very tense now.”

Serta has been a centre of Tibetan resistance since the widespread protests in Tibet in 2008. The January 24th incident followed a series of protests by Tibetans in the area in the same month. On January 18th and 22nd, protests were reported in rural villages as well as a larger demonstration in Serta town on January 23rd where a banner reading: "we protest against failed Chinese policies in Tibet" was unfurled. Last year, on October 1, China's National Day, Tibetans in Serta unfurled a large painted cloth portrait of the Dalai Lama and raised the Tibetan national flag on the roof of a 3-story building in the town center. Protests broke out when Chinese authorities removed the portrait and flag. Photos can be seen here: 


Tenzin Dorjee (Tendor)  བསྟན་རྡོར།
Executive Director, Students for a Free Tibet  བོད་རང་བཙན་སློབ་ཕྲུག་ཚོགས་པ།
Address: 602 E 14th St., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10009, USA
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank