Two Tibetan teenagers die in double self-immolation protest as UN demands answers from China over “desperate acts” by children

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Rinchen, 17 (photo available, 1), and Sonam Dhargye, 18, set themselves alight in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (2) yesterday 19 February at around 9.30pm local time. Both teenagers died at the scene and their bodies were taken by their families.

The protests took place after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child published its “list of issues to be taken up” (3) with China following hearings in Geneva two weeks ago in which evidence about China’s performance protecting the rights of children was considered. The committee considered a Free Tibet report (4) which included evidence about self-immolations of people under 18 and other abuses of children’s rights. The committee has demanded that China answers whether it has “conducted a thorough and independent inquiry” into self-immolations of children in Tibet and asks what the state has done to “identify the reasons for such desperate acts by children and prevent future ones”.

The committee also demanded information about the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations, arrest and arbitrary detention of children, and abuse of their religious freedom and language rights in Tibet.

Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said:

“The actions of these two teenagers show that despite China’s recent crackdown, this form of protest is likely to remain a feature of the Tibetan response to Chinese occupation in 2013. It also highlights the plight of Tibet’s children, who face all the challenges of life under oppression, and are often full participants in the struggle to resist it. We welcome the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s demand for answers from China about the abuses of children’s rights in Tibet, and any mechanism which holds China to account for its actions in Tibet.”

Ends

Notes for editors

(1) Location: Kyangtsa Township, Dzoge County in Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP). Chinese: Ruo’erge County, Aba TAP, Sichuan Province.

(2) Portrait photos of Rinchen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/8492108446/in/photostream and http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/8491006883/in/photostream .

(3) Available at the committee's website (first document in second column). China’s answers to the committee’s questions and compliance with its obligations will be assessed at a meeting in September 2013.

(4) Growing up under China’s occupation: the plight of children in Tibet.
Summary at http://tibetwatch.org/Free%20Tibet%20and%20Tibet%20Watch%20submission%20to%20the%20UNCRC%20November%202012.pdf
Full report at http://tibetwatch.org/Free%20Tibet%20and%20Tibet%20Watch%20submission%20to%20the%20UNCRC%20November%202012.pdf

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 further information or comment, contact campaigns and media officer Alistair Currie:
E: alistair@freetibet.org

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