Free Tibet refutes China's claim that self-immolations "orchestrated"
In response to China’s allegations today that self-immolations in Tibet are “orchestrated and supported” (1), Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:
“There is no evidence to support China’s claims that self-immolations in Tibet are ‘orchestrated and supported’.
“The Chinese regime is making every attempt to control news of protests from Tibet, denying access to the international media, independent observers and foreign government officials who are requesting to travel to the areas where protests, including self-immolations, have taken place.
“Hundreds of Tibetans who have been involved in protests have been arbitrarily detained and many have disappeared. Tibetans who have shared information have been arrested.
“Widespread protests and self-immolations in Tibet demonstrate that China's methods for achieving 'stability', as emphasised at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), have failed the Tibetan people.”
Summary of situation in Tibet
Protests are escalating and spreading in Tibet
• At least 25 Tibetans in the last year have set fire to themselves in Tibet in protest at Chinese policies (2), 13 of them in 2012, including a teenager (3) and two women in the last week, one a mother of four (4) and the other a 20-year-old student (5).
• 19 of those who self-immolated are known to have died and the wellbeing and whereabouts of many of the others are unknown (6).
• Larger protests are taking place with increasing frequency across an ever-widening area of Tibet (7). Over 1,000 students demonstrated this week in Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
• Use of lethal force. At least five Tibetans have died from gunshot wounds, in three separate incidents since January (8).
• The largest number of Tibetans shot by state actors in a single incident since 2008. In Drango on 23 January 2012, two Tibetans were shot dead by Chinese state security forces when they opened fire on Tibetan protesters; Free Tibet has the names of 34 who sustained gunshot wounds in the same incident (9).
• China has flooded Tibet with security forces. Tibetans in Ngaba report that there are three times as many state security personnel as Tibetans. State security conduct night-time searches of homes, Tibetans are stopped and searched, beaten and detained both on the streets and in their homes for no apparent reason other than that they are Tibetan (10).
• Tibetans in many areas are under close surveillance. In Drango, surveillance footage is being used to identify and arrest Tibetans who participated in protests on 23 January; over 100 have been detained, their wellbeing and whereabouts are unknown, and two Tibetans were shot dead by security personnel during efforts to detain them on 9 February 2012 (11).
• Detentions and disappearances are commonplace, with large numbers of Tibetans forced to take part in ‘patriotic re-education’ programmes for extended periods of time (12).
• Communications systems (internet, mobile phones and SMS) are regularly blocked, sometimes for long periods of time.
• Tibet is currently completely closed to independent observers, including the media. The BBC has been threatened with expulsion by state officials if they continue to attempt to report on Tibet. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China in February 2012 condemned China’s aggressive attempts to prevent reporting on Tibet (13).
China’s official position
• Chinese officials in Tibet have been told to ready themselves for “war” by Regional Communist Party Chief of Tibet Chen Quanguo.
Notes to Editor
1) Wu Zegang, the Chinese Communist Party’s top administrator in Aba Prefecture, at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Beijing, 7 March 2012
7) i. http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/another-tibetan-teenager-self-immolates-ngaba-while-hundreds-protest-jyekundo
8) i. http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/two-killed-and-more-wounded-confirmed-draggo
13) The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a statement, February 2012 :
“The Chinese authorities have set up a massive security cordon in an attempt to prevent journalists from entering Tibetan areas in Western Sichuan Province where major unrest – including killings and self-immolations – has been reported.
“The FCCC considers this a clear violation of China’s regulations governing foreign reporters, which allow them to travel freely and to interview anyone prepared to be interviewed.
“Correspondents attempting to travel to the region in question have faced major obstacles, including detention by the police and roadblocks at which they have been stopped and turned back by officials who have then forcibly escorted them back to Chengdu. “Bad roads” and “weather” are being used as excuses for denying correspondents entry to the area.
“One team reported that their car was suspiciously rammed by another vehicle. Reporters have been followed, questioned for hours, asked to write confessions and had their material confiscated.
“Journalists are merely trying to do their job and independently confirm the truth of reports from the area. We call on the Chinese government to recognize our purely professional motivation and to abide by its own regulations that allow us to enter the areas in question.”
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 interviews and further information please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden:
M: +44 7971 479 515
T: +44 207 324 460