Nangpa La killings 1

Some of the captured survivors with Chinese border guards at the advanced base camp in Cho Oyu.

The Nangpa La shootings or Nangpa La massacre was a murder of unarmed Tibetan pilgrims attempting to leave Tibet via the Nangpa La pass by the Chinese Border Security police on September 30, 2006. It was confirmed that 2 were shot dead and 18 went missing, presumed dead. Nangpa La is a traditional trade route between Tibet and Nepal. The victims were shot from a distance by Chinese Border Security police as they moved slowly through chest-deep snow. The Chinese government initially denied the charges but the shootings were filmed by a Romanian photographer.[1][2]

The incident

On September 30, 2006, 75 Tibetans, among them many children, and their two guides were leaving Tibet to join the Dalai Lama in exile (living in Dharamsala, India). The police opened fire on the group and killed Kelsang Namtso, a 17 year old nun. Kunsang Namgyal, a 23 year old man, was hit in the leg twice, then taken away by the Chinese border police. Although the group was not armed, the Chinese claimed that their soldiers fired in self-defense. 41 of the 75 reached the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two weeks later they arrived at their destination in Dharamsala, India.[2]

Nangpa La Pass is a common traders route between Tibet and the Khumbu region of Nepal. It is visible from nearby Cho Oyu and its BC (basecamp) and ABC (advanced basecamp), used by mountaineering expeditions. It is about thirteen km northwest of Mt. Everest. Dozens of foreign mountaineers who were present that morning on Cho Oyu and witnessed the ambush. At least two tried to contact the outside world as soon as they could. In spite of an atmosphere of "intimidation", as some of them later described the situation in their BC. Thus the first, alarming newsreport could make it through ExplorersWeb to the outside world. Some of the foreign climbers eventually released photographs and films of the incident, and several of them gave eye witness statements either in private or in public. Images include the Chinese soldiers escorting those survivors through advanced base camp at Cho Oyu. Many were children since they were smaller targets and had greater difficulty fleeing through the deep snow. Video footage includes PAP-personnel sharpshooting civilians who were at a great distance and moving away from them. Several of the mountaineers are of the opinion that more than two refugees were killed in the incident, with some eye witnesses speaking of seven. Such a number has not yet been confirmed by the Chinese authorities. One climber officially stated that at least one member of Chinese security personnel present, filmed individual mountaineers who were at advance base camp at around the time of the incident.[3]

Following the arrival in India of the survivors of the shootings of September 30, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) held a press conference at the Press Club of India (PCI), New Delhi, on 23 October 2006. Reportedly the following media attended: Reuters, AFP, AP, Sydney Morning Herald, CNN-IBN, Infocell, Deutsche Welle, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Societe Radio-Canada, Swedish Radio, Press Trust of India, Pio TV, CBS News, Radio Free Asia, Voice of Tibet, Phayul and other media representatives. At the press conference one of the refugees said his reason for escaping from Tibet was to see, and receive blessings from, the Dalai Lama.[4]

Nangpa La killings 2

Kelsang Namtso lying in the snow after being shot and killed.

It was confirmed, on October 23 2006, by Chinese authorities that another person - Kelsang Namtso, a 17-year-old Buddhist nun - was killed immediately during the September 30 shooting. Earlier China had stated one of those captured on Nangpa La died in hospital later from "a lack of oxygen". International law requires that the use of firearms by border patrols takes place only as a last resort, and when life is at risk. In accordance with eye witness statements, editors and politicians in many countries could not find confirmation of such a situation in the video footage. The incident received global media attention concerning the issues of "the Chinese occupation of Tibet" and human rights violations in Tibet. It also received serious attention from a growing number of governments worldwide.On November 30, 2006 at the meeting of the "UN Human Rights Council in Geneva" (Switzerland) 16 NGOs in a joint statement questioned the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the steps taken concerning the 30 September killings of Tibetans on the Nangpa Pass. However, the High Commissioner did not respond to question posed on the Nangpa Pass killings.[4]


The following list of people were part of the original group and have been missing since the shooting. It is believed they are either held by Chinese authorities, or were killed. The names were collated and forwarded (via email) by Students For A Free Tibet. Chinese authorities have not released information concerning the following missing people.

  • Tenwang, age 7
  • Lhakpa Tsering, age 8
  • Dhondup Lhamo, age 9
  • Dechen Dolma, age 10
  • Wangchen, age 11
  • Tsedon, age 12
  • Sonam Wangdue, age 12
  • Ming Shomo, age 13
  • Lodoe Nyima, age 15
  • Jamyang Tsetan, age 16
  • Karma Tsetan, age 16
  • Lodoe Namkha, age 16
  • Karma, age 19
  • Samten, age 19
  • Sonam Palzom, age 20
  • Dhondup Palden, age 21
  • Kusang, age 22
  • Lobsang Paljor, age 35


  • September 30 - Shooting occurs at 10:30 a.m. local time
  • September 30 - A doctor who belongs to a climbing expedition on Cho Oyu calls a newspaper in his homecountry to tell of what he witnessed
  • October 2 - First reports of shooting appear on ; source is a western expedition guide
  • October 4 - Major international newsagencies start publishing
  • October 9 - Survivors reach Nepali capital Kathmandu and are granted refugee status by the UNHCR centre in the city
  • October 10 - Romanian mountaineers Alex Găvan and Sergiu Matei give first eyewitness account of shooting to . Initially they made a live broadcast from Cho Oyu's Adbavced Base Camp with Romanian radio ProFM and published their dispatch on Gavan's website of the expedition at
  • October 10 - British police officer Steve Lawes is interviewed by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu
  • October 11 - Cho Oyu mountaineering expeditions have returned to Nepal and the British "The Independent" reports Chinese diplomats in the Nepalese capital are tracking down and trying to silence Western climbers and Sherpas who witnessed the killing of Tibetan refugees on Nangpa La the week before; as a result, several of the foreign climbers leave the country a.s.a.p.
  • October 11 - Slovenian climber Pavle Kozjek contacts with first pictures of the incident
  • October 12 - U.S. Ambassador to China, Clark T. Randt, personally lodges a formal protest on behalf of the US Government against China's treatment of the refugees, during his visit to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing
  • October 12 - The humanitarian mountaineer who first reported the shooting by Chinese Border Security Soldiers visits the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu; he meets with some of those who escaped the shooting and talks with them
  • October 12 - The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, reports that soldiers were "forced to defend themselves" when people trying to cross the border attacked the soldiers (by throwing stones at them)
  • October 13 - releases first video of the incident: "There is no excuse, China: Nangpa La VIDEO shows border guards sharpshoot refugees"
  • October 14 - Sergiu Matei is interviewed by Romanian TV channel ProTV and footage of incident is shown
  • October 16 - UNPO, the organisation for UNrepresented Nations and Peoples, issues its first appeal following "the extrajudicial killings by Chinese soldiers"
  • October 17 - begins search for further witnesses to the shooting
  • October 17 - says a cloud hangs over climbing and calls for opinions from mountaineers: "what should be done?"
  • October 18 - International Campaign for Tibet receives new photos of the shooting from a British climber
  • October 19 - The Tibetan Parliament-in-exile urges UNHRC High Commissioner to take note of Nangpa-La pass shooting
  • October 21 - The survivors who reached Kathmandu move onto Dharamsala in India, the home of the Tibetan government in exile and the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama
  • October 23 - Chinese authorities confirm a second person - Kelsang Nortso, a 25-year-old Buddhist nun - was killed immediately during the original incident
  • October 24 - Three survivors - Thupten Tsering, (a 23 years old Tibetan monk), Dolma Palkyi (a 16 years old girl) and Lobsang Choeden (26) - hold a press conference in New Delhi
  • October 25 - ITSN Olympics campaign working group launches an email protest, targeting IOC President Jacques Rogge and Chinese President Hu Jintao
  • October 26 - Human Rights Watch calls for an independent investigation into the shooting
  • October 26 - Radio Free Asia reports China detained 3 mountainguides and over 50 Tibetan refugees in the aftermath of the Nangpa La shooting incident, with fear reigning in Lhasa
  • October 26 - EU Parliament: Joint Motion For A Resolution On Tibet; Voting 66 For, 0 Abstentions, 0 Against
  • October - By the end of October (political) protests, protest demonstrations, protest gatherings and/or e-mail campaigns to condemn the Nangpa La killings, and prayers for the victims, have taken place in (several) cities in Nepal, India, the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Italy, France, Germany (the list not yet being complete)
  • October 31 - The Epoch Times publishes a long interview with another eyewitness: a surgeon from Denmark
  • November 30 - Human Rights Watch publishes an interview with two survivors of the Nangpa Pass shooting
  • November 30 - As the UN Human Rights Council began its 3rd session in Geneva (Switzerland), 16 NGOs in a joint statement questioned the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the steps taken concerning the 30 September killings of Tibetans on the Nangpa Pass
  • December 10 - the 58th International Human Rights Day, with human rights rallies taking place in many countries, including attention for the Nangpa La killings


External links

Coordinates: 28°6′27.8″N 86°35′17.5″E / 28.107722°N 86.588194°E / 28.107722; 86.588194ko:낭파라 총격사건zh:囊帕拉枪杀事件

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