Second Tibetan stabs himself in mining protest

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Following fatal protest last week, second man’s condition unknown

On 7 May 2014, after Tibetan Phakpa Gyaltsen stabbed himself and jumped to his death to protest Chinese mining (1), a second man in Tongbar township (2) staged a similar protest.

Rigzin, aged 34, stabbed himself three times and tried to jump off Phakba Gyaltsen’s house, after being among those who took the protester's body from the scene of his death to his home earlier in the day. Sources report that Rigzin was traumatised and saddened by Phakba Gyaltsen’s death and his action was to show solidarity and protest against the mining.

Local Tibetans prevented Rigzin jumping and took him to hospital in Chamdo, the capital of Chamdo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Police surrounded the hospital and communications have been cut in the area. His current condition is unknown.

20 Tibetans from the area were arrested in April after a peaceful protest against mining projects (1). They were released after appeals from the local community.

Free Tibet campaigns manager Alistair Currie said:

“Tibetans oppose Chinese rule in many way, including suicide by self-immolation. Whether last week’s protests in Tongbar prove to be isolated incidents or the start of something new remains to be seen. There have been a growing number of significant protests against mines in 2013 and 2014 and although China’s response has been dismissive at best and brutal at worst, environmental exploitation is clearly of deep concern to Tibetans and continues to trigger acts of resistance to China’s occupation of their country.”

China is engaged in environmental exploitation in Tibet on a vast scale and mines and other projects frequently lead to Tibetan protest (3, 4).

Tibetans have stabbed themselves when involved in clashes with the police but the two protests in Tongbar are the first recent cases of confirmed “suicide” protests not involving self-immolation. So far there have been six self-immolations in 2013, with 129 confirmed inside Tibet since 2009 and two possible but unconfirmed (5).

Contact:

Free Tibet campaigns and media manager Alistair Currie
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605
E: Alistair@freetibet.org

Notes

(1) Free Tibet press release, 8 May 2014, http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetan-man-fatal-protest-over-mining-operations
(2) Location: Tongbar township, Dzogang County, Chamdo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (Ch: Zuogong county, Changdu Diqu TAP, TAR).
(3) For more information on environmental exploitation see http://freetibet.org/about/tibets-environment
(4) Environmental protest: Free Tibet press release 21 October 2013 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/machine-gun-fire-tibet-exclusive-video-police-breaking-environmental-protest (video of environmental protest); Free Tibet news story, May 2013 http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/thousands-tibetans-protest-mining-sacred-site; Free Tibet news release 8 October 2013 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/60-tibetans-injured-security-forces-fire-peaceful-protest.
(5) Full list of self-immolations http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet