Romanian TV Releases Video Said to Show Chinese Forces Shooting Tibetan Refugees

A Romanian TV station released a video Saturday that it said shows Chinese forces fatally shooting a Tibetan refugee who was with a group of people trying to flee to Nepal in an incident that prompted an international outcry.

The video from Pro TV shows a distant figure that its narrator says is a Chinese border guard firing a rifle and a separate scene of a person in a line of figures walking through the snow falling to the ground. An unidentified man near the camera can be heard saying in English, "They are shooting them like, like dogs."

Pro TV, Romania's biggest private TV station, said the video was shot Sept. 30 by Sergiu Matei, a Romanian cameraman with an expedition climbing Cho Oyu, a Himalayan peak near China's border with Nepal.

The activist group International Campaign for Tibet, in a written statement, said the video proves Chinese troops fired at unarmed Tibetans and disproves Beijing's statement this week that its forces acted in self-defense after being attacked.

The figures in most of the video are too far from the camera — up to one-half mile, according to the narrator — to make out their identities. The scene of the man firing a rifle doesn't show what he is shooting at. The person shown falling gets up and starts to run, but a separate scene later shows a shape in the snow that the narrator says is the body of a dead Tibetan man. Men in Chinese military-style uniforms with rifles or machine guns are shown walking through the snow.

"They were shot like rabbits," Matei said in an interview on Pro TV's Web site.

Witnesses quoted by human rights groups say at least one person, a 25-year-old Tibetan Buddhist nun, was killed in the shooting at the 5,800-meter-high Nanpa La Pass.

The pass is a common escape route for fleeing Tibetans. Thousands have left for Nepal since communist forces occupied their Himalayan homeland in 1951. Some make their way to India, the home of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader and Nobel Peace laureate.

The Chinese government said Thursday that its border forces killed one person when they clashed with some 70 people trying to leave the country illegally. It said a second person died later. But it said Chinese forces were attacked and acted in self-defense. The statement didn't say whether those involved were Tibetans.

The incident prompted a protest by Washington.

The American ambassador to Beijing, Clark T. Randt, went to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday to "protest China's treatment of the refugees" in the incident, according to the U.S. Embassy.

The incident was first reported in accounts posted on Web sites for mountaineers. Climbers in the area said Chinese troops put rifles to their shoulders and fired at Tibetans crossing the pass.

Witnesses were quoted by human rights groups as saying troops detained 10 to 12 frightened-looking Tibetan children aged 6 to 10.

The video released by Pro TV shows three children walking in single file ahead of men in Chinese military-style uniforms with guns slung over their shoulders. A Tibetan man is shown hiding in a climber's tent.

Matei told Pro TV that he hid the Tibetan man for 12 hours and then showed him the quickest route across the glacier.

The International Campaign for Tibet said the shooting was carried out by the People's Armed Police, a paramilitary force that is part of China's Defense Ministry. The PAP guards borders and government buildings and acts as riot-control troops.