Thousands gather following Tibetan self-immolation protest

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Residents are afraid to leave their homes in Rongwo, capital of Rebkong County, Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Eastern Tibet (1) after a 25-year-old man, Dorje Lungdup (2), set fire to himself this morning in protest.

Tibetans in the town say that they are frightened to go out, reporting large numbers of security forces on the streets and restrictions on movements in the town. Internet and mobile communications are being interrupted to prevent the spread of information.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

“China's policies in Tibet have failed. Protests in Tibet are escalating ahead of the change of leadership.

“More than half of those who have set themselves on fire have only known a Tibet under Chinese military occupation and still they reject Chinese rule.

“Events inside Tibet expose how the 'One China' policy has failed. The next generation of Communist Party leaders must seize the opportunity to take a different approach from one which tries to impose stability by force.”

Dorje Lungdup set fire to himself at approximately 10:30am local time today near Sakyil Hotel in Rongwo town and died at the scene.

Thousands are reported to have gathered for prayers when Dorje Lungdup’s body was taken to Dolma Square in front of Rongwo Monastery. The people decided to cremate his body immediately to prevent the authorities from interferring, and so the ceremony took place at 3pm local time at Dhongya-lay cremation site behind the monastery.

Dhongya-lay cremation site is where the two other men who have self-immolated in Rongwo were also cremated earlier this year. Those self-immolations sparked the largest protests in Tibet since 2008 (3).

Thousands of Tibetans attended today’s cremation and prayers. A representative of the family told the crowd that Dorje Lungdup set fire to himself for the return of the Dalai Lama and begged them not to protest for the sake of their safety. A family member was overheard saying that Dorje Lungdup set fire to himself for Tibet.

Ends

Notes to Editors
1) Chinese: Tongren, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.

2) Dorje Lungdup was a father of two children. His was a traditional Tibetan Thangka artist. He was from Lokshung Village, Chuma Township, Rebkong County.

3) Press releases covering Rongwo protests in March 2012, the largest in Tibet since 2008:

"http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/self-immolation-sparks-protest-tibetan-town" title="Rebkong protest">http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/self-immolation-sparks-protest-tibetan-town

4) Free Tibet press releases detailing recent protests: http://freetibet.org/news-media/press-releases

5) Full list of Tibetan self-immolations: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet

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 7971 479 515
S: stephaniefreetibet