Self-immolation sparks protest

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Jamyang Palden, a monk in his 30s, self-immolated in Rongwo town, Rebkong county, Mahlo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (1), Qinghai at 10.30am (local time) this morning. He set himself on fire near Rongwo Monastery, the largest monastery in the county, and is believed to have survived.

His self-immolation sparked a protest in the town.

As monks assembled in the monastery this morning, Jamyang Palden went outside to the square and set himself on fire. Staff from the Religious Affairs Bureau came out and took him to the Prefecture Hospital but a number of monks, including the high lama, went to the hospital and took him back to the monastery, as they feared Chinese authorities might arrest him if he remained in hospital.

After the self-immolation, around 500 monks gathered in the square. Locals and people from nearby villages joined them, chanting and praying, all the while monitored by the military. A number of people held up a picture of the Dalai Lama, whose image is banned in Tibet. The monks have returned to the monastery to offer prayers. Monks from other monasteries are travelling to the town as a mark of solidarity.

Meanwhile in the same town, students from both Yifu National Middle School and Prefecture Second Senior Middle School, are currently protesting inside the school grounds. It is unclear whether it is connected to the self-immolation. Up to 700 students from the same town took part in a large protest last week (2).

Plain clothes security personnel are now checking people entering the town.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

“This latest self-immolation and the protest which followed, underlines Tibetans’ rejection of China’s oppressive occupation. We are now witnessing regular and sustained demonstrations of resistance by Tibetans. The protests will continue for as long as China and the rest of the world refuse to act to instigate basic freedoms in Tibet.”

Student protest in neighbouring town

Approximately 1 ½ hours by public transport from the site of today’s self-immolation and protest, students from Tsekoho County, Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (3), protested early this morning.

Young people from Tsekoho Middle School 1 started protesting for language rights and equality for Tibetans at around 5.30am (local time). Before long they were joined by students from the other school in the town, Middle School 2.

The group marched to the County Government Office building before moving to the County Public Security Bureau Station. After demonstrating there, they went to the People’s Armed Bureau where militia are trained and weaponry stored.

The students held a very big banner, which called for freedom of language and equality. This is the same slogan as was used in during the student protests of 2010 which swept across Tibet and even reached Beijing (4).

Security Forces watched the protests but did not intervene. It ended at around 8.40am. After the protest, several trucks of specially-trained Paramilitary Armed Police and Public Security Bureau were seen patrolling the town. It is not known what has happened to the students.

Ends

Notes to editors

1. Chinese: Tongren, Huangnan

2. www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/hundreds-students-join-tibet-protest

3. Chinese: Zeku, Huang Nan

4. www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/student-protests-spread-beijing

 

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
M: +44 7971 479 515
T: +44 207 324 4605