Today, self-immolation spreads to different area of Tibet

25th October 2011

A monk set fire to himself earlier today outside Kandze Monastery, Kandze Town, Kandze Autonomous Prefecture, Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Garzi Town, Garzi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan). He is the tenth Tibetan to have self-immolated this year (1). Free Tibet is unable to confirm the monk’s identity, well-being and whereabouts at this time. Kandze Town is 150 km from Ngaba where eight of this year’s self-immolations have taken place. In 2008, 14 unarmed protesters were shot dead by Chinese security personnel at Tongkor Monastery in Kandze Town (2).

More than 40 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire in protest at the repressive Chinese occupation of their country. See the full list.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

“This latest self-immolation, which has taken place more than 150 kilometres from Ngaba, where eight of the nine previous self-immolations took place, coupled with protests in other parts of Tibet, underlines that the crisis in Tibet is not driven by events in one town, but represents a wider rejection of China’s occupation of Tibet.

Equally, China’s response - significantly increased numbers of security personnel including in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, hundreds of kilometres away from where the self-immolations have taken place; Chinese security personnel patrolling with fire extinguishers in both Ngaba and Lhasa; restrictions on movement; interruptions to telephone and internet services and Chinese state rhetoric - exposes that the Chinese regime is concerned that Tibetans are again powerfully illustrating their rejection of Chinese rule, threatening the Communist Party’s One-China policy.

Given that Chinese security forces have used force on at least one occasion in recent weeks - shooting two Tibetans - the international community, including the British government, cannot continue to ignore the events unfolding in Tibet. The British government must stop merely paying lip-service to human rights. Raising concerns privately has not led to any improvements in human rights in Tibet or China. A more robust and public approach, with diplomatic efforts to secure negotiations between the Chinese and Tibetan representatives, is necessary. Only an end to China’s occupation will bring about the realisation of Tibetan rights.”

Ends

Notes to Editor

1) Summary of the escalating trend of self-immolation and protest in Tibet

Self-immolation is not a traditional form of protest in Tibet and has evolved out of Tibetans’ determination to draw international attention to persistent and brutal violations of Tibetans’ human rights by the occupying Chinese regime.

All those who have self-immolated this year are Buddhist monks, former monks and one nun. Five of those who set fire to themselves have died; the well-being and whereabouts of the other five remain unknown.

Eight of the ten self-immolations have taken place in Ngaba Town, Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba Town, Aba County, Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province), an area that has regularly seen tensions between local Tibetans and occupying Chinese state actors. In March 2008, 13 Tibetans were shot dead by Chinese security personnel. The first self-immolation this year took place on the third anniversary of that massacre.

China’s disproportionate response to that first self-immolation in March this year has included the deployment of large numbers of paramilitary People’s Armed Police to the area, arbitrary arrests, armed road blocks, house searches, interruption of internet, mobile and telephone communications. An estimated three hundred monks were forcibly removed from Kirti monastery, an enforced programme of ‘patriotic re-education’ ran at the monastery from March until August. Six monks have been sentenced in connection to the self-immolations in trials, regarded as unsafe by Free Tibet.

In Ngaba, internet cafes have been closed, internet and SMS services remain cut. The area is closed to foreign journalists and human rights monitors, and Tibetans risk severe penalties, including life imprisonment, for passing information to external contacts.

These self-immolations are not taking place in isolation, but are part of wider protests. Protests involving several hundred Tibetans took place in Serta Town, Serta County, Kandze prefecture (Chinese: Seda Township, Seda County, Garzi Prefecture, Sichuan) on 1 October 2011, when Chinese personnel removed a large Tibetan flag and a picture of the Dalai Lama that had been hung from a municipal building by a Tibetan.

In Khekor Township, 83 Km from Serta Town, also in Serta County, Kandze Autonomous Prefecture (Chinese: Kege Township, Seda County, Garzi Prefecture, Sichuan), protests took place on 15 and 16 October 2011; two Tibetans were shot by Chinese security services during the protest, outside the local police station, on 16 October 2011. In 2008, Chinese People’s Armed Police opened fire on protesters in Khekor Township, shooting two Tibetans, one of whom died.

Chronology of self-immolations

16 March 2011: Phuntsog (21 yrs old; died), Ngaba: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/160311-monk-self-immolation

15 August 2011: Tsewang Norbu (29 yrs old; died), Tawu, Kardze (Ch. Garzi), Sichuan : http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/monk-dies-after-setting-himself-fire-protest-tibet

26 September 2011: Lobsang Kalsang & Lobsang Konchok (18-19 yrs old; well-being & whereabouts unknown), Ngaba : http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/two-more-tibetan-monks-set-themselves-alight

3 October 2011: Kalsang Wangchuk (17-18 yrs old; well-being & whereabouts unknown), Ngaba, http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/fifth-monk-self-immolates

7 October 2011: Choepel, 19 and Khayang, 18; both are believed to have now died from their injuries, Ngaba, http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/two-teenagers-set-themselves-fire-rumours-many-more-ready

15 October 2011: Norbu Dathul (19 yrs old, well-being & whereabouts unknown), Ngaba, http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/photograph-tibetan-monk-following-self-immolation-emerges-eighth-tibetan-sets-fire-himself

2) Protests took place in Serthar on 15 and 16 October 2011. The township has a population of 130 families. In 2008, Chinese People’s Armed Police opened fire on protesters in Khekor Township, shooting two Tibetans, one of whom died. Khekor Township is 83km from Serthar Town where protests took place on 1 October 2011.

Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.

For further information and interviews please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden
E: stephanie@freetibet.org
T: +44 (0)20 7324 4605
M: +44 (0)7971 479515