UPDATE: Tibetan self-immolation protester identified, family members detained

Friday, 9 December 2016

Further details have emerged about the protester, Tashi Rabten, who set himself on fire yesterday

The Tibetan protester who fatally set himself on fire yesterday has been confirmed as Tashi Rabten. Tashi Rabten, known to his friends and family as Tarab, is a former monk from Teushel village in Machu County, Kanlho, eastern Tibet (1).

Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch has since found out that Tashi Rabten’s wife and two children have been taken into custody. A number of his other relatives have also been detained after approaching the authorities to ask for his body.

Images and video footage (2) obtained by Free Tibet show Tashi Rabten walking down a street on fire before collapsing to the ground while a crowd gathers around him. A later video shows security personnel lifting and removing the body.

A vigil for Tashi Rabten was held by the Tibetan community and Tibet supporters in Dharamsala, India, today (3).

Tashi Rabten is the cousin of Tsering Kyi, a 20-year old student who died after carrying out a self-immolation protest in Machu in 2012 (4).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“Having lost a father and a husband, Tashi Rabten’s family now find themselves in detention. The cruelty of this system knows no bounds. The only crime they have committed is to be the family of someone who has embarrassed China by once again reminding the world that their occupation these human rights abuses cause Tibetans real pain. And sometimes this pain pushes Tibetans to make the ultimate sacrifice.

“Instead of trying to bury this news or blaming and punishing the family, China should tackle the root causes of these self-immolations. It should remove its suffocating restrictions on Tibet, end the human rights violations it carries out on a daily basis and put an end to the systematic eradication of Tibet’s culture. The international community must also join this effort by calling on China to halt these abuses. World leaders cannot simply stand by while more Tibetan lives are lost.”

Information supplied to Free Tibet by Tibet Watch.

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Notes to editors

  1. Location: Teushul village, Draktho nomadic unit, Troko Madma township (Ch: Man Ri Ma), Machu (Ch: Maqu) County in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.
  2. Photographs and video available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/albums/72157673598795774  (warning: graphic content).
  3. Photographs of the vigil can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/albums/72157673598795774  
  4. For further details of Tsering Kyi’s case, see: https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/tibetan-schoolgirl-dies