A Tibetan pushed off a steep roadside into river, believed dead

Bystanders gather at the scene of the police violence
16th August 2021

Rigdrak was attacked by police after questioning them for stopping his car

Local sources have reported that Chinese police have attacked two Tibetans without provocation in central Tibet, potentially killing one of them.

On the afternoon of 15 August 2021, Rigdrak was pushed off a steep roadside into the Yangtse River by plain-clothed Chinese police. He is now missing and believed dead. After his friend, Sherab Gyaltso, tried to intervene, he was shot.

Ringdrak and Sherab Gyaltso were travelling in their private car from Kyegudo to Domda Township in Kyegudo of Yushul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, accompanied by a third friend, Gurkyab.

Chinese police stopped all the travellers at a checkpoint and investigated vehicles.  When the police checked Sherab Gyaltso’s car, his friend Rigdrak got out of the car and told them “we do not have any illegal things in our car. Why are you investigating our car?” He also asked them to produce their police identity card and details of their police office.

Sources confided that the police answered in a very rude manner and said “shut your mouth” and pushed him off the steep roadside. On seeing Rigdrak fall down into the Yangtze River, Sherab Gyaltso immediately came out of the car and confronted the police. One of the  Chinese police responded by pulling out a gun, pointing it at Sherab Gyaltso and firing at him.


People gather by the Yangtze River after Rigdrak was pushed by police

Bystanders and other travellers intervened at the scene of police violence and rushed to help injured Sherab Gyaltso. They took Gyaltso to a local hospital for emergency treatment. Eyewitnesses of the incident were later joined by local Tibetans in searching Rigdrak around the riverside but no trace of him being alive nor his dead body was found. Local Tibetans believe that Rigdrak must have drowned and died.

A witness described that those police officers were neither in police uniform and nor did their car carry registration number plates. They did not produce any police card or any warrant paper for investigation.  

Rigdrak, in his 50s, hails from to Shikog Village (Tib:ཞེ་ཁོག་སྡེ་བ་) in Zhendu County (Tib:ཁྲིན་འདུ་རྫོང་) and is survived by two daughters and his wife. Sherab Gyaltso, 26, from Dharmer Village (Tib:དར་དམར་སྡེ་བ་) in Domda Township (Tib:སྡོམ་མདའ་ཡུལ་ཚོ་) has five family members. His father’s name is Karma and his mother’s name is Lhatsi.

Last week, on 8 August,  three Tibetans were arrested in Kyegudo by local police on allegations of sharing pictures from an official state-organised event with Tibetans outside Tibet in a WeChat Group named Unity Group,. A source confided that the event had been suddenly suspended without disclosing the reasons. Surveillance and restrictions in the area are still strictly maintained.   

Tibet Watch has also learned that over the past two to three months, the authorities in Qinghai Province stationed numerous checkpoints, installed heavy CCTV cameras for surveillance and deployed a huge number of security personnel, armed forces and police everywhere in and around Tibetan areas. In the name of preventive measures for the second wave of COVID-19, keeping maintenance of public safety and stability, local Tibetans and Tibetan travellers are randomly searched, checking their cars, mobiles and belongings.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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