Initial interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch in mid-October 2006 with two survivors of the Nangpa Pass shooting near the China-Nepal border on September 30, 2006.
Interview with X from Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture
Q1. What is your name and where are you from?
Ans. My name is X and I am from B Village, Th Township, Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture.
Q2. When did you arrive here?
Ans. I arrived here six days ago.
Q3. Are you one of 75 people out of which some escaped via the Shar Gangla [the Nangpa La Pass]?
Q4. How did you come from your home place?
Ans. I came to Lhasa and stayed there for five days, then some people from our home place helped me to find a guide to take me to India. On the fourth day I was told that I would have to leave the next day. I was told that I had to pay 4,500 yuan and that we would have to walk for only two days. I gave the money to the person from my home place. The next day we were kept in a monastery in Tölung area of Lhasa Municipality, where I stayed for one day. This is because I was told that if others knew that we were leaving for India then they might inform the police. The next night we were taken in a truck. We reached Sakya from where we walked for 17 days.
Q5. Did you face difficulty in finding food and accommodation for 17 days?
Ans. Since the person from my home place told me that we would need to walk for only two days, I was carrying only a little tsampa and I did not dare to eat too much. So we stirred a little tsampa with water and we drank it for food and we walked like that for 14 days. Then we did not get any food for the next six days. I have never faced such difficulties like not getting food and fighting cold weather before. I will never forget that.
Q6. Where did you meet Chinese soldiers?
Ans. We walked for many days and reached near the Pass. When we reached there the sun was shining and the soldiers had arrived behind us.
Q7. What did the soldiers do then?
Ans. Then the soldiers were shouting, "Where you are going? Stop or we’ll start shooting." And they were chasing us and they started shooting continuously.
Q8. Were you all together that time?
Ans. They were 75 people together; some could walk fast and some could not. There were about 20 people with me and we were walking in a line close to each other because there was snow all over the place and we didn’t know the trail.
Q9. What did you do after soldiers gave these warnings?
Ans. There was no time to do anything except for running away and saving your own life. There was no time to help each other. There was a brother from Kandze [Dkar mdzes Tibetan Prefecture in Sichuan/Kham] behind me. I looked back and saw that he was shot in both legs. There was a nun ahead of me; she was also shot and fell down. During that time there were two girls ahead of me. They told me to run because the soldiers were killing people.
Q10. What did you three who got shot at do then?
Ans. We ran and when we reached the area on the far side of the Pass, we hid in the snow for about 4 hours.
Q11. What did you do after that?
Ans. We could see the soldiers from our hiding place in the snow, then after about 4 hours the soldiers went back. Then we came out and headed for the Pass at around 3pm Chinese time.
Q12. How were you able to find your way?
Ans. We did it by following footprints on the snow.
Q13. Did you see the body of the nun?
Ans. Yes, we thought we would help her if she was not dead. But her eyes were white and her body was frozen. We were more scared even and then we went on immediately.
Q14. Where was the nun shot?
Ans. She was dead when we saw her. We were scared and could not check where she was shot.
Q15. Did you see anyone else dead on the way?
Ans. We did not see anyone else dead but we heard that a 12 year old boy who was wearing yellow clothes was also dead. But I don’t know if it is true.
Q16. As you mentioned before, did the person from Kandze escape?
Ans. He could not escape because he was shot in both legs. I shouted at him asking if he was coming. He told me to run as he could not walk. Then two friends and I escaped. But I didn’t know what happened to him later.
Q17. Did the 75 people know each other before?
Ans. Most of them got to know each other on the way.
Q18. How many people were there from your village?
Ans. There was one girl from my village but nine others from our township.
Q19. Did they all arrive here at the [Tibet Refugee] Reception Center [in Kathmandu]?
Ans. The little girl from my village was arrested by soldiers and was taken back, but the rest of the people from my township arrived here.
Q20. How many Tibetan soldiers were there among those whom you saw near the Pass?
Ans. There were 5-6 soldiers and three were Tibetans.
Q21. Did you see soldiers arresting and taking people away when you were hiding in the snow?
Ans. We saw soldiers going here and there in the snow but we did not see them taking people away.
Q22. Where did you meet up again with the others who escaped with you?
Ans. We met them at a hotel after crossing the Pass. They were staying there.
Q23. What were they doing there?
Ans. Some were drying clothes, some were nursing their foot wounds, one girl was snow blinded and she was given sacred medicine pills to eat and put in her eyes.
Q24. How long did soldiers fire when you were hiding?
Ans. After all our companions escaped, the three of us were hiding in the snow and they kept firing for about 3 hours.
Q25. Why did you come to India?
Ans. I am 18 years old but I never got any opportunity to study. So I came here to study and to seek an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Q26. What work did you do in your home place?
Ans. I helped my parents do farming and nomadic work until now.
Q27. Why didn’t you go to school in your home place?
Ans. Firstly, the environment for studying is not good, and secondly, the school fee is high. So my parents did not send me to school.
Q28. Will you return to Tibet after completing school in India?
Ans. Yes, I will return home.
Interview with Z from Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture
Q29. What is your name and where are you from?
Ans. My name is Z and I am from J Village, D Township, Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture.
Q30. Are you from the same village as the nun who passed away?
Ans. We are from same village and we came together from our home place.
Q31. How many households are there in your village?
Ans. There are over 40 households and all are farmers.
Q32. How many members are there in the nun’s household?
Ans. She had her two parents, one elder brother, and several younger brothers. She was the only daughter.
Q33. Which nunnery was she from?
Ans. There is no nunnery in our native place and so she lived at home.
Q34. When did she become a nun?
Ans. It’s been about two years since she became a nun.
Q35. Did you see her when she died?
Ans. I did not see her. I knew about her death only after we crossed the Pass and got together on the other side, because I was ahead of her with some other people.
Q36. Why had she tried to come to India?
Ans. She said she was going to join Drolmaling nunnery in India.
Q37. What is the condition of her household?
Ans. They are well off.
Q38. How old was she?
Ans. We are same age; 17 years old.
Q39. Did she escape from home or did her parents send her?
Ans. He parents sent her.
Q40. What is her name?
Ans. Her name is Kelsang Namtso.
Q41. Why did you come to India?
Ans. I came to seek education and an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Q42. Will you return to your birth place in the future?