Filipino climbers witness killings in Tibet (PDI)
By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
October 5, 2006
A TEAM of Filipinos climbing Mount Cho-Oyu, the world's sixth highest
mountain at the border of Nepal and Tibet, witnessed the purported killing
of Tibetans by members of the Chinese Army, according to the team doctor.
In a cell phone call to the Inquirer on Saturday, an emotional Dr. Ted
Esguerra said he saw at least three people -- two women and a man -- shot
dead on the Nangpa La pass, which can be seen from Cho-Oyu's Advance Base
Camp (around 18,000 feet above sea level).
But he added that as many as seven people might have been killed.
Esguerra and other members of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition
are climbing Cho-Oyu (26,906 feet or 8201 meters) as part of their training
for next year's attempt on Mount Everest.
As the team doctor, he has been active in extending free medical assistance
to other climbers on the mountain.
"Here I am trying to save lives. Yet I am a witness to the taking of lives,"
said Esguerra, who sounded as though he were close to tears.
A check with mounteverest.
Tibetans had been shot at on their way to the Nangpa La pass. Members of the
Chinese Army then "swarmed" the advance base camp, the report said.
The website ran this report from an unidentified foreign climber: "Early
morning of September 30th, I walked out of our dining tent to gaze [at] the
Nangpa La pass. I saw a line of Tibetans heading toward the start of the
pass -- a common sight, as the trade routes are open this time of year.
"Then, without warning, shots rang out. Over and over and over. Then the
line of people started to run uphill -- they were at 19,000 feet. Apparently
the Chinese Army was tipped off about their attempted escape, and had showed
up with guns."
The climber said he saw two people drop to the ground.
"Watching the line snake off through the snow, as the shots rang out, we saw
two shapes fall. The binoculars confirmed it: Two people were down, and they
weren't getting up. Then more [members of the] Chinese army swarmed through
ABC (advance base camp)," the climber said.
Tibetans have used the Nangpa La pass as a trade route for centuries.
Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s, around 2,500 refugees a
year have used the route to head to Nepal and India during the winter months
and the Cho-Oyu climbing season.
China tries to clamp down on climbers who saw Tibet killings (ANI)
London, Oct 11 (ANI): Chinese officials in Kathmandu are trying to track
down and silence the hundreds of western climbers and sherpas who witnessed
the killing of Tibetan refugees on the Nangpa La mountain pass last week.wo
British mountaineers had seen Chinese border guards kill a woman and a group
of children who were trying to ross over to Nepal. The woman was later
identified as a 17-year-old nun Kelsang Namtso.
A 13-year-old boy was also gunned down during 15 minutes of shooting
witnessed by the Western climbers, including two British policemen, 1,000
yards away at Cho Oyu camp.
Later three Chinese soldiers were seen marching the children through the
camp - some 12 miles west of Mount Everest - as climbers and Sherpas looked
Chinese officials could not be contacted.
But fears have been expressed over the safety of western climbers still in
Tibet as well as over the fact that China might clamp down on profitable
Everest expedition, which costs up to 30,000 pounds.
Steve Lawes, one of the British police officer who witnessed the shooting
said the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu called him for an interview.
"It was intimidating atmosphere as the security personnel "took over" the
camp at Cho Oyu, on the border between Tibet and Nepal. 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," The Independent
quoted him as saying.
"The shooting happened at around 10.30am on 30 September. A group of between
20 and 30 people on foot [was] heading towards the Nangpa La Pass. Then
those of us at advance base camp heard two shots, which may have been
Video footage of Nangpa Pass shooting refutes official Chinese statement
ICT report, October 13, 2006
Video footage of Tibetans who were crossing into Nepal being shot by
Chinese border police on September 30 refutes official claims that the
troops fired "in self-defence"
The video footage, taken by a Romanian cameraman who was at advance base
camp on Mount Cho Oyo at the time (www.protv.ro), depicts a line of
Tibetans walking uphill through the snow on the Nangpa Pass when a shot
is heard and one of the figures falls to the ground. The video clearly
depicts that the Tibetans had their backs to the soldiers, were unarmed,
and offered no resistance. The nun who died, Kelsang Namtso, appears to
have been shot in the back.
In an unusual official account of the incident, China said that Chinese
frontier soldiers tried to persuade the group of Tibetan "stowaways" to
go home, but the Tibetans refused and "attacked the soldiers", who were
then "forced to defend themselves". (People?．s Daily, October 13, and
Xinhua, October 12). The Chinese official account does acknowledge one
death, but says that it was from altitude sickness. On the same day that
the official account was released, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman
Liu Jianchao denied knowledge of the incident.
Mary Beth Markey, Executive Director of the International Campaign for
Tibet, said: "The Chinese Xinhua statement belongs in the realm of
fiction given the evidence confirmed in this powerful footage. It is
deplorable that the People?．s Armed Police act as if shooting Tibetans
crossing into Nepal is a legitimate expression of their authority. ICT
demands a full accounting by the Chinese government, and assurances of
the safety of the children now apparently in the custody of the Chinese
During the shooting, a mountaineer in the cameraman?．s group can be heard
saying: "They are shooting them like dogs." Sergiu Matei, a cameraman
from Romania who was on his first climbing trip to Cho Oyu, west of
Mount Everest and near the border with Nepal, told ICT that he and his
group saw the line of Tibetans snaking up the pass, and ten or more
soldiers near advance base camp opening fire. "We saw one person falling
down, and they didn?．t get up. This must have been the nun who died. We
saw another person fall down too, but later they got up - maybe this
person was injured."
Sergei Matei, who returned to Bucharest from the Himalayas yesterday,
also helped a Tibetan from one of the groups escaping to Nepal across
the Nangpa Pass when he found him hidden in a toilet tent at advance
base camp. He said: "He was terrified and shaking. I couldn?．t think of
what to say so I asked him if he was going to see the Dalai Lama, and
when he heard those words he put his hands together in prayer. We hid
him in the mess tent for several hours and when it seemed to be safe, I
took him back onto the pass."
A Czech climbing expedition leader, who also witnessed the shooting,
Josef Simunek, told ICT: "We felt as though it was 20 years ago in our
country in the Communist time, when Czech soldiers killed Czech citizens
in their escape over the ??Iron Curtain?"
Image of nun's body in snow at Nangpa Pass
Tibetan children in Chinese custody after shooting at Nangpa Pass
Tibetan nun shot dead; other Tibetans feared killed on way to Nepal
Communications Director, ICT