Tibet police chief to Tibetans: “self-immolate if you want”

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Regional official tells delegation they can “supply petrol” to protesters The deputy governor and police Chief of Tawu County in eastern Tibet (contact details available, see below) has been confirmed to have told Tibetans that they could “self-immolate if they want”. The comments by Gong Jiansheng, an ethnic Tibetan, were made on 22 May at Tawu County offices (1) to a delegation from the area visiting him to seek the release of local Tibetans detained after the self-immolation of Tenzin Gyatso on 20 May (2). The official also told the delegation that they could “supply petrol” to protesters. (Although the comments were made in May, Free Tibet has only recently confirmed his identity.) Tenzin Gyatso’s self-immolation took place in response to intensive campaigning by officials from Township and County levels in the Tawu area to discourage local Tibetans from celebrating the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama (3). In July 2013, Tibetans who gathered to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Tawu were fired upon by security forces, causing at least seven severe injuries, with many subsequent arrests and reports of torture in detention (3). The delegation including village leaders and monks from the local Nyitso monastery told the official that Tibetans were self-immolating as they were suffering under the repression of the authorities, so they chose to die rather than live. The biography of Gong on the local government website (Chinese, 4) reads: Gong Jiansheng, male, Tibetan, born November 1973, from Luhuo, Sichuan, holds an undergraduate degree, started working in July 1995, joined the Communist Party of China in June 1996, current Deputy Governor of the People's Government of Tawu, County Public Security Bureau, Party Secretary , Police Inspector. County Deputy Governor, Police Chief, overall in charge It lists his telephone number as +13990466505. Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren says: “Tibetans often report that law and justice are arbitrary under China’s rule. At a basic, human level, the comments made by this Communist Party official are outrageous and callous. They are also at odds with both Chinese law and official policy - not just self-immolation protesters but their families and communities face punishment for their protests. We’ve seen officials punished this year for supposedly supporting separatism but Gong Jiansheng seems free to say whatever he wants. This gives the lie to the notion of a happy Tibet that China is at pains to sell to the world and shows that the rule of law is a fiction for Tibetans.” In January, Chinese state media reported that 15 officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region were punished for “separatist” activities (5). Information supplied by Tibet Watch. -ends- For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet campaigns and media manager Alistair Currie: E: alistair@freetibet.org T: 0207 324 4605 Notes to editors (1) Location: Tawu County town, Tawu (Ch: Daofu) County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Daofu County, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan Province) (2) Free Tibet press release 21 May 2015 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetan-man-self-immolates-after-security-and-propaganda-campaign (3) Free Tibet press release 17 July 2013 www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetans-tortured-detention-following-shooting-dalai-lama-birthday-celebrations]. (4) http://www.dfxgaj.com/News/View.asp?ID=106 (5) New York Times 28 January 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/29/world/asia/communist-officials-in-tibetan-region-punished-for-separatism-china-says.html?emc=edit_tnt_20150128&nlid=60484226&tntemail0=y&_r=1 The Dalai Lama’s birthday took place in June according to the Tibetan lunar calendar and on 6 July according to the Gregorian calendar. Tibetans may celebrate on both dates.