October 19, 2006

Tibet: New Images of Aftermath of Nangpa Pass Shooting

A new set of images received by ICT depicts a group of Chinese police at the scene of the shooting of the young Tibetan nun on the Nangpa Pass on September 30.

A new set of images received by ICT depicts a group of Chinese police at the scene of the shooting of the young Tibetan nun on the Nangpa Pass near the border of Nepal on September 30. The images depict police and possibly officials gathered around the body the day after the nun, 17-year old Kelsang Namtso, was shot dead by People's Armed Police while she was crossing the pass into exile in Nepal with a large group of Tibetans including children, other nuns and monks. Her death was witnessed by a large number of international climbers, Sherpas and porters at advance base camp on Mount Cho Oyu, west of Mt Everest.

The images, taken through a telescope by a British climber at advance base camp on Cho Oyu at the time, show around 12 personnel gathered around the nun's body in the snow. One of the officials or police is apparently taking notes and at one point another is pictured, after most of the group has left, lying in the snow with his hands behind his head. Several climbers have confirmed that they saw members of the group taking pictures of the body. A shovel can be seen planted in the ground, which appears to confirm several eyewitness reports that the nun's body was buried where she died in the snow.

The images, taken at close range, also depict People's Armed Police personnel escorting a Tibetan who was apparently wounded - possibly by gun-fire, although this could not be confirmed - through advance base camp. According to several eyewitnesses, the Tibetan was walking with a limp and had to keep stopping to rest. The pictures also depict children being escorted by the soldiers through the camp.

Close study of the footage of the shooting taken by Romanian cameraman Sergiu Matei on September 30 reveals that three Tibetans from the group of more than 70 Tibetans crossing the pass into Nepal fell after being shot. Of these, the nun has been confirmed dead, and the other two Tibetans were later seen getting up from the ground by eyewitnesses. In an official statement last week, the Chinese news agency Xinhua confirmed there had been one death following the shooting, but that this had been due to 'altitude sickness' (Xinhua, October 12 and 13).

The British climber said: "After the shooting, a yak caravan came along the pass from Nepal and stopped by the body before moving on. The yaks were chest-deep in powdery snow. No one could run far in those conditions, particularly young children. Those of us who watched realized how easy it would have been for the soldiers to detain the Tibetans, instead of shooting at them."

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