Chinese police fire on Tibetans, injuring 9 during Dalai Lama birthday celebrations


Tibetan Buddhist monks leave a ceremony at the historic Labrang Monastery, which is second only to the Potala Palace in Lhasa in size, in the town of Xiahe, Gansu Province on March 14, 2008.



Chinese paramilitary police opened fire on a crowd of Tibetans in Sichuan province Saturday, injuring nine, according to rights groups.

Tibetans were celebrating the birthday of the Dalai Lama when police fired into the unarmed crowd who were leading a procession up a hill. Monks were among those injured in the remote town of Daofu (Tawu in Tibetan).

They are currently recovering in hospital, according to Tibet's India-based government-in-exile. 

Though the shooting occurred on Saturday, government restrictions prevented word of the event. Details about the shooting still remain vague.

Saturday's incident comes amid tough words by Chinese officials. China's ethnic and religious affairs chief, Yu Zhengsheng, called for “an absolute fight against the Dalai clique” while touring Tibetan areas in Gansu province recently.

More from GlobalPost: Tibetans in Turmoil

“Only when the Dalai Lama publicly announces that Tibet is an inalienable part of China since ancient time, gives up the stance of ‘Tibet independence’ and stops his secessionist activities can his relations with the C.P.C. Central Committee possibly be improved,” Xinhua quoted Yu as saying, according to the New York Times.

The Dalai Lama has supported what he calls the "Middle Way" which would see Tibet as an autonomous part of China. China has taken a harder line approach, stating that the Tibetan leader's policy runs counter to its constitution.

China said that the Dalai Lama used his birthday to stir secessionism.

The Dalai Lama, who turned 78 on July 6, has been living in exile in Dharamshala, India since 1959.

There have been over 100 self-immolations by Tibetans living in western China since a tough crackdown by Chinese authorities in 2011.