Thousands of Tibetan students protest
Tibetan students have taken to the streets of Rebkong County (1) calling for Tibetan equality, language rights and the return of the Dalai Lama. Between 4-5,000 students participated in the demonstration which took place between 5 and 6am (local time) this morning.
The students marched through the town, bringing traffic to a halt, stopping to demonstrate outside a local government compound. It is believed that teenage middle school students, and young people from a local teacher training college, aged in their early-20s were involved.
Free Tibet has received images of protests in Rebkong. One shows a large gathering of people outside a school and the other shows large numbers of protesters marching through the streets (2).
Chinese armed military and police were mobilised and gathered at a road intersection and the government compound. They did not engage the group and allowed the protest to continue. This may have been due to the large number of Tibetans involved.
The situation remains tense in the area.
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said
“These huge student protests are part of the wider Tibetan struggle for freedom. These brave young people are asserting their Tibetan identity as the Chinese Communist Party meets to decide the man who will lead the occupation of Tibet.
“Tibetans are sharing information, photographs and video of protests across Tibet and internationally – at great risk. Their courage cannot continue to be ignored by the international community.”
Earlier this year, around 700 students in the same county protested when they discovered their Tibetan textbooks had been replaced with Chinese ones (3). Similar student protests in 2010 swept across Tibet and even sparked solidarity protests in Beijing (4).
Two Tibetans, a 23-year-old woman (5) and an 18 year-old man, set themselves on fire in two separate incidents in Rebkong this week, sparking large scale protests which brought Chinese paramilitaries onto the streets yesterday (6).
Notes to editors
1. Ch: Tongren
2. Image of Rebkong protest November 2012: http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157631967201040/
Please credit Free Tibet if using any images
3.Free Tibet press release on Tibetan student protest: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/hundreds-students-join-tibet-protest
4.Free Tibet press release on Tibetan student protest: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/student-protests-spread-beijing
5.Free Tibet press release on the self-immolation of a Tibetan, nomadic lady :http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetan-nomadic-woman-sets-fire-herself
6.Free Tibet press release detailing relations between security forces and Tibetans: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/clashes-feared-between-chinese-security-forces-and-tibetan-villagers-following-fifth
7. Free Tibet press releases detailing recent protests: http://freetibet.org/news-media/press-releases
8.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:
M: +44 7951 479 515