Tibet Spring reaches the capital Lhasa
Tibetan protests against Chinese occupation reached the capital city of Lhasa yesterday, 27 May 2012, when two Tibetans set themselves on fire in front of the iconic Jokhang Temple in the centre of the old city.
Over 30 Tibetans have set themselves on fire (1) and thousands more have participated in protests (2) in other areas of Tibet since March 2011, but these are the first self-immolations in Tibet’s capital city.
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:
“For more than twelve months Tibetans have been protesting against China’s occupation of their homeland - the Tibet Spring has now arrived at the heart of Tibet’s capital city.
“Free Tibet is closely monitoring the on-going situation in Lhasa. In other parts of Tibet where protests have taken place we have documented hundreds of arbitrary arrests and disappearances. We fear a similar response in Lhasa. China’s security apparatus is in place to remove and punish people in large numbers.
“We have already received reports that Tibetan residents of Lhasa have been arbitrarily detained in the wake of yesterday’s self-immolations, and that residents from Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) have been targeted.
“Residents of Lhasa are reluctant to speak about yesterday’s event because they know that the repercussions for communicating with the outside world are severe for themselves and their families; they believe that their phones are being bugged and their internet monitored.”
Jokhang Temple has been the site of protest not just yesterday but in 2008 and before. There is a heavy and constant security and police presence around the temple.
The speed with which Chinese security forces removed the two Tibetans who set themselves on fire yesterday meant that even nearby residents were unaware of what had happened. Many more forces were immediately deployed in the city and around Jokhang Temple. Lhasa is now under heavy military restrictions.
Notes to Editors
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 7971 479 515