Boat tragedy causes 23 deaths

On 21 March 1997, in Drongtoe village under Lhoka Gonkar county south of Lhasa, 23 Tibetans died in a boat disaster.

The Chinese authorities had ordered 123 local inhabitants to work on the plantation of eucalyptus trees in the area north of Yarlung Tsangpo (river). While travelling to and from the work plantation they were required to cross the Yarlung Tsangpo on boats made from the hides of yak.

The 123 workers were sent across the wide river in three such boats which are designed to hold far less people. While making their return crossing, the overloaded boat capsized in the middle of the river and 23 people drowned.

Prior to Chinese invasion, Tibet had many areas of very thick forest. According to reports the areas of previously rich and fertile forest land are now bare and arid. The Tibetans have never been consulted on these deforestation activities.

It is only now that the Chinese authorities are attempting to replace some of the trees destroyed. However, as in the case of the area mentioned above, the land has been rendered completely infertile and there is no possibility of plants being able to grow there. The sending of the Tibetans to do the plantation work which led to the tragedy was in fact absolutely without purpose.

The names of the victims are as follows:

Gorgor, Dawa and Penpa – all male

Jangchup and Dekyi – both female and from the area of Pashong village in Ghonkar district.

14 persons from Lhundup village:

Male: Rinchen, Phurbu, Dawa (also known as Kukpa), Lhakhok, Tsering Namgyal and Dawa Dhondup
Female: Pasang Phunkyi, Migmar, Penpa, Bhagor, Penpa, Bhagkor, Nyima and Pasang Nyima, Dhadon and Penpa Dolma

All female from the area of Bhorong village

Sonam – holding the position of shang trang (Tibetan appointed by the Chinese authorities as a district head).

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