Mother-of-two self-immolates in eastern Tibet

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Police interrogate the family after Sangy Tso dies at the scene of her protest

37-year-old Sangy Tso set herself alight at around 4am (local time) on Wednesday 27 May 2015. She made her protest at the entrance gate of a government office close to Chubu Shi monastery (also known as Tashi Choekor Ling monastery) in Chone County, eastern Tibet (1).

Sangy Tso died at the scene and her body has been taken to Tsoe City, the county capital, by security personnel.

About an hour prior to her protest, Sangy Tso sent a message to her family via WeChat. This caused them to worry and they started trying to find her but they were unable to locate her until after she had carried out her protest. The family were then interrogated by police who arrived at Sangy Tso’s home. Security personnel have now been deployed across the area and the movement of local people has been restricted.

This protest comes just days after the head of Tawu County dismissed the grievances being raised by local Tibetans in the wake of Tenzin Gyatso’s self-immolation protest and told them they could “supply petrol to those who wanted to self-immolate” (2).

The government office where Sangy Tso carried out her protest was quite small prior to 2008 but was enlarged after the local monks became involved in the 2008 uprising. A local source described Sangy Tso’s self-immolation as “a clear act of political protest against those Chinese officials who are constantly torturing Tibetans in the area”.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren says:

“Many people were shocked by the callousness of the statement made by the head of Tawu County and it seems all the more heartless in light of Sangy Tso’s protest. There is no indication that the Tawu official’s words represent any change in official policy – China has criminalised self-immolations and goes to great lengths to punish Tibetans with even the slightest link to a protest. However, while the words may be those of an individual, the utter disregard for Tibetan lives has been evident in China’s actions since it first occupied Tibet. It is time for the world to see China’s claim over Tibet for what it really is – China wants the land but it does not care about the people.”

Sangy Tso was married to Tamding Wangyal and they have two children together – a boy named Tsering Dhondup and girl named Khatso (4). This is the fifth self-immolation of 2015. The total number of self-immolations in Tibet is now 139, with a further two unconfirmed (5).

Information supplied by Tibet Watch.

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For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren:
E: eleanor@freetibet.org
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes to editors
(1) Location: Nyinpa Township, Chone (Ch: Caoni) County, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province
(2) See Free Tibet news story 26 May 2015 http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/chinese-official-tells-tibetans-self-immolate-if-they-want
(3) Photo of the children taken during this year’s Losar (Tibetan New Year) festival available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157653477635686
(4) The first self-immolation in Tibet took place in 2009 and there were no further self-immolations until March 2011. 2012 saw the peak number (so far) of self-immolations, with 83 confirmed. Full list of self-immolation protesters at http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet