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China's brutality in Tibet


  Fact Sheet
  List of identified killed Tibetans since 10 March 2008
  Video Footage (contains scenes of violence, gruesom pictures!!)

Though there are many footages of the protests taking place throughout Tibet last year that were splashed across the world, the following are one of the rare footages of police beating of protestors, the suffering and death of a captive, and Para-military presence in Lhasa, which managed to make its way to the outside world.

According to the information received by the Central Tibetan Administration, as of 31 January 2009, partly as a result of such beatings, about 220 Tibetans died and over 1,294 were seriously injured. Over 5,600 were arrested, 290 sentenced and more than 1,000 have simply disappeared.

In the past, one of the most powerful and stunningly painful footages to come out of Tibet that recorded Chinese police treatment of the protestors was the 1988 beating of the monks at the Jokhang temple. These footages now shown around the world are the first images that documented the brutality of the Chinese police.

China has repeatedly denied the use of torture in Tibet. Even after last March’s widespread protests and the crackdown that followed, Chinese authorities in Tibet resorted to brutal beatings and torture of the captive Tibetans.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had rejected the U.N. panel’s report on the widespread use of torture by Chinese police, calling the report as “untrue and slanderous” in November 2008 and accusing the committee members as “prejudiced” against China.

However, the following footages testify to what is truly happening in Tibet as recently as 2008.

This is one of the rare footages of Chinese police beating Tibetans who participated in the massive and widespread protests that erupted throughout Tibet since 10 March 2008. We are told that these beating of protestors took place in or near Lhasa after 14 March 2008. The footage clearly shows the beating of Tibetan captives even after they are handcuffed and tied, a violation of international norms regarding treatment of captives.

The second footage is about a young Tibetan, Tendar, a staff in the China Mobile company who was brutally beaten and later suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of Chinese authorities. Tendar was simply trying to stop some Chinese police officials from beating a lone monk on March 14, 2008 when he was on his way to his office.

He was fired at, burned with cigarettes butts, pierced with a nail in his right foot, and severely beaten with an electric baton. The wounds and the bruise marks visible on his body is a testimony of the brutality he was subjected to by the Chinese authorities.

The doctors and the nurses were terribly stunned upon seeing the rotten wounds and bruises on his body when he was shifted to the TAR People’s Hospital, which shows he was even denied basic medical care at the military hospital.

Due to covering his wounds with polythene, his wounds began to rot as clearly seen from the footage. TAR People’s Hospital had to remove about 2.5 kgs of his body part in order to clean out the decay. Every effort was undertaken by his family in meeting huge expenses, but for his recovery, but failed to bring improvement.

He died due to his injuries on June 19, 2008. When his corpse was offered to the vultures according to the tradition, a nail was found in his right foot.

Third footage shows the heavy Para-military presence in Lhasa in the run up to the 50th Anniversary of March 10 Tibetan National Uprising.

Lhasa and all other areas of Tibet still remain under virtual martial law.



  1. As of 20 March 2009, a total of 220 Tibetans have died under China's brutal crackdown since 10 March 2008.
  2. Four categories of death under China's crackdown – Indiscriminate firing, Torture, Suicide and Starvation.
  3. Indiscriminate firing into the protesting crowd resulting in Tibetan deaths confirmed in Lhasa, Ngaba, and Karze (Tongkhor Monastery, Chokri Monastery and Dabpa County).
  4. Information available on 107 Tibetans with 113 yet to be identified.
  5. Following events and information adds up to more than 113 unidentified dead Tibetans:
  • Largest number of Tibetan casualties reported between the period of 14-17 March 2008. At least 80 people killed on 14 March 2008. In further confirmation of such killings, an estimated 80 bodies were seen piled near Lhasa Public Security Bureau Office on 15 March 2008.
  • On 28 March 2008, an estimated 83 bodies were cremated in a crematorium behind Yabda Township, Toelung Dechen County, Lhasa Municipality.
  • [Out of over 160 Tibetan aforementioned deaths in March 2008 in Lhasa alone, information available on over 40 Tibetans in the list].
  • Of the 23 Tibetan deaths in Ngaba protest of 16 March 2008, only 10 could be identified.
  • Pema Thinlay, Vice-Chairman of the "TAR", had acknowledged the death of three protestors (unidentified) in a press conference in Lhasa on 27 March 2008.
  • Deaths of three Tibetans (an elderly person, one male and one female youth) from Dabpa County, Karze "TAP", Sichuan Province. Initial protest occurred on 7 March 2008 resulting in shooting dead of the three unidentified Tibetans four days later on 11 March 2008.

Reasons for unconfirmed identities of 113 dead Tibetans:

  • Of those killed in Lhasa, many did not possess residence permit. These Tibetans were originally from far-flung areas within the "TAR" such as Kongpo, Chamdo etc. and from the regions of Kham and Amdo who had come to Lhasa for purposes of pilgrimage, business or temporary stay.
  • Chinese security forces had cremated many bodies without informing the family members. As disappearance cases of Tibetans in the aftermath of 2008 protest totals over a thousand, it is likely that many of the deaths went uninformed to and unreported by the family members on the assumption that their kin could have been disappeared or detained.
  • Information clampdown and blackout.

FIGURES of Tibetans Arrested, Sentenced, Dead and Missing

It is virtually impossible to determine the exact number of Tibetans arrested, dead, sentenced, or missing in Tibet considering the tremendous lack of transparency and severe restrictions on information flow in Tibet. It is, however, believed that the actual figure of Tibetans facing prison sentence, detention, disappearance etc is likely to be much higher than what is reported here.

10 March 2008 – 31 January 2009


Central Tibetan Administration CHINA
Arrest/Detention Over 5,600

1,317 [Xinhua news report, 5 Nov. 2008, and The Australian report, 10 Nov 2008]



76 [Nyima Tsering, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Regional People's Congress said at a press conference held on 10 Feb 2009]



19 [Xinhua news report, 5 Nov. 2008]


Over 1,294

623 including 241 policemen
[Xinhua news report, 5 Nov 2008]


Over 1,000



  • Xinhua on 2 April 2008 acknowledged that "150 incidents of smashing, looting, beating and burning" had taken place between March 10 and March 25 in the Tibetan areas of Tsongon Province, Gansu Province and Sichuan Province.
  • Other official accounts acknowledge specific protests in at least 18 county-level areas in prefectures of Chamdo, Ngaba, Karze, Kanlho and Golok in the "TAR" and the provinces of Tsongon, Gansu and Sichuan.
  • Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet reports more than 125 protests across the Tibetan plateau since 10 March 2008.


© The Tibet Bureau - Geneva 2007  |  TOP