“I am setting fire to myself to protest against the Chinese government”

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

One week after the death of Nyingkar Tashi (1), the 15th of 20 Tibetans to set fire to themselves in protests in the last month (2), Free Tibet has received a copy of the letter believed by Tibetans to be his last words (a photograph of the letter is available (3)). The letter says: “I am setting fire to myself to protest against the Chinese government”. Like all statements made by Tibetans who have protested, Nyingkar Tashi’s words belie Chinese government assertions that Tibetan protests are instigated by “external Tibetan forces and the Dalai clique”. Nyingkar Tashi called out for freedom in Tibet and for the long life of the Dalai Lama as he set himself on fire; the beginning of his letter echoes his last cries: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama and six million people [Tibetans in Tibet] need freedom. Tibet needs independence.” Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said: “Nyingkar Tashi’s words could not be clearer: he is protesting against the Chinese government. He is protesting for freedom and independence. These are the unifying demands of protesters across Tibet, over 60 years after China’s occupation began. “World leaders, policy makers, the media and the international community at large cannot possibly be blinded by China’s Orwellian rhetoric that blames external agents for its own failings. We all know what is going on in Tibet, yet so many choose to turn a blind eye, ignoring Tibetan calls for freedom and allowing the atrocities of China’s occupation to continue unchecked.” Nyingkar Tashi goes on to say in his letter that Tibetans need to be able to speak and learn their own language (Chinese is the main language in Tibet for education, as early as primary school, and in business). He says that his family need not mourn or worry, and that his hope is that six million Tibetans can speak Tibetan, learn Tibetan, wear Tibetan dress and be united. Ends Notes to Editors 1) Press release relating to Nyingkar Tashi’s self-immolation: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/self-immolation-prayer-ceremony-underlines-escalating-tension-tibet Portrait photograph of Nyingkar Tashi (please credit freetibet.org when using this photo): http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/8200379404/in/photostream 2) Free Tibet press releases detailing recent protests: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/press-releases Full list of Tibetan self-immolations: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet 3) A photograph of Nyingkar Tashi’s letter (information redacted from bottom right for security reasons): http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/8200369602/in/photostream Please credit freetibet.org when using this photo Full transcript of the letter is available on request. 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: E: stephanie@freetibet.org M: +44 7951 479 515 T: +44 207 324 4605