Tibetan village leader killed in detention in Driru County

DHARAMSALA, Dec 16: A popular and respected village leader has been killed in detention by local Chinese Communist Party authorities in restive Driru County in Nagchu Prefecture in eastern Tibet’s Kham Province, indicating continued repression and crackdown on Tibetans, including extrajudicial killings in the region.

According to sources with contacts in the region, Bachen Gyalwa aka Ngawang Monlam, the leader of Ushung Village in Gyashoe Yangshok Township (also known as Sentsa Township) in Diru County was removed from his post as the village headman, arrested and then killed on November 21 while in detention on the orders of the secretary of the Driru County Party Committee.

Bachen Gyalwa in the centre wearing a hat.
Bachen Gyalwa in the centre wearing a hat.

Chinese authorities have also arrested around 50 Tibetans from the area who were sympathetic to the former village leader. They are currently being held at the Driru County detention centre. Four out of the 50 odd Tibetans detained have been identified as Paga, Nemed, Droril and Tashi. Apart from the names of the four Tibetans, no additional information could be ascertained.

Following Bachen Gyalwa’s death, local authorities threatened the Tibetans in Gyashoe Yangshok Township not to utter a word about the killing of the village headman and the detention and arrests of other Tibetans.

The authorities also forcibly took signatures and thumb prints of local Tibetans making them promise not to reveal any information about the incident to the outside world. Authorities have further restricted local Tibetans from traveling outside their Township.

Bachen Gyalwa, aged around 50 and a former monk of Pekar monastery was a widely respected, courageous and patriotic leader who always looked after the religious, cultural, social and economic welfare of the Tibetans in Ushung Village.

During his leadership, he had built a huge community hall for religious activities and cultural performances, a school for educating the young and elderly, founded Tibetan opera and dance institutes, built hospitals, shops and roads in the locality in Ushung village.

Rehabilitation programs initiated by Bachen Gyalwa have led to the unemployed Tibetan youth of Ushung village giving up excessive drinking, smoking, gambling and thieving.

Although exact circumstances of his death could not be ascertained, sources say his popularity among local Tibetans caused extreme fear in the local Chinese leadership and as a result Bachen Gyewa was removed from his position as village head, arrested and killed.

Another man chosen by the local authorities has been appointed in his stead as the village leader.


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