Tibetans beaten with spiked batons following double self-immolation

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Double self-immolation

A former monk, Tashi, 21 (1), and his former classmate, a monk called Lungtok, age 20 (2), set fire to themselves in protest at China’s occupation of Tibet in Ngaba Town, Eastern Tibet (3) at 6:50pm local time yesterday, 13 August 2012.

Lungtok is reported to have died; Tashi was last seen, with severe injuries, being taken from the county hospital towards Barkham. They are the fourth and fifth Tibetans to set fire to themselves in protest in one week; 48 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in Tibet since March 2011 (4).

Underlining their determination to make the protest public and to see it through, the two men set themselves on fire inside a prayer-wheel hut near Kirti Monastery in Ngaba Town and then, once they were in flames, came out of the hut and walked towards the street now known as Martyrs’ Street (5).

Chinese state security personnel extinguished the flames on Lungtok and forcibly removed him. Security personnel also put out the flames on Tashi and then beat him, before taking him away in a vehicle.

Security personnel use metal batons spiked with nails to beat Tibetans

Enraged at seeing Tashi being beaten, locals began to demonstrate, calling out slogans. Their numbers quickly increased, and more Chinese state security forces arrived at the scene. Eyewitnesses report that some demonstrators were beaten with metal batons spiked with nails and that some people were dragged away.

Many Tibetans were reported to have been injured during this incident and some were detained. An eyewitness reported that he had seen one person with blood pouring from a severe head injury and that the injured person was then dragged away. The eyewitness does not know what has now happened to that person.

A large number of military and paramilitary forces are reported to have been deployed to the town where tensions are escalating.

Free Tibet is receiving news today, 14 August, of a protest in Rebkong (6), over a days’ journey from Ngaba. Rebkong was the scene of the largest protests in Tibet in decades, involving thousands of Tibetans, in March this year (7).

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

“Free Tibet condemns this use of disproportionate force against Tibetan protesters and urges restraint. The use of metal batons spiked with nails to beat Tibetan demonstrators is deeply shocking. Free Tibet has documented the use of these dehumanising weapons by state security forces in Ngaba and other towns in Tibet previously. Such a brutal response to protests can only deepen Tibetan grievances.

“Tibetans are choosing to set fire to themselves in the same location, now known by locals as Martyrs’ Street, in order to link their protests to those who have gone before them. Tibetans are united in their rejection of Chinese rule.”

Ends

Notes to editors

1) Tashi, a former monk who disrobed in 2011, is from Soruma village, Chojema (Ch: Qiujima) township, Ngaba county.

2) Lungtok was a monk from Kirti monastery.

3) Chinese: Aba Town, Aba County, Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan

4) Free Tibet press articles on self-immolations: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/selfimmolations

5) The Tibetan name for the street is "Bawo shunglam". The most direct translation is "Hero Street" but according to a Tibetan from Ngaba, this direct translation is not accurate and the meaning of the word as it is being used in the town is ‘martyr’.

6) Chinese: Tongren, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai.

7) Free Tibet press release on Rebkong: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/largest-protest-living-memory-rebkong-after-father-sets-himself-fire

http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/self-immolation-sparks-protest-tibetan-town

8) For more information on the uprising in Tibet visit: http://www.freetibet.org/campaigns/tibet-rising

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

10)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
T: +44 207 324 4605
S: stephaniefreetibet