VIDEO: Monk carries out self-immolation protest in Tibet

Sunday, 16 April 2017

An unnamed monk set himself on fire in Kardze County, eastern Tibet (1) yesterday, 15 April 2017.

The monk, as yet unidentified, carried out his protest on a busy street. Shortly after setting himself on fire, Chinese police and security forces arrived. They extinguished the flames and took him away. A video, taken secretly and acquired by Free Tibet, shows police extinguishing the fire on the body (2).

It is not clear whether or not the monk survived his self-immolation protest. A local who witnessed the protest said:

 “I was near by the scene. I saw the self-immolator was badly burned. He was unrecognisable.”

Tibet Watch, Free Tibet’s research partner, is working to confirm further details of this case.

Following the protest, the internet in the area has been heavily restricted and there is heightened surveillance.

This is the second self-immolation in Tibet in 2017. In March Pema Gyaltsen set himself on fire outside Tsokha Monastery, also in Kardze. His condition and whereabouts remain unknown (3).

Over 140 Tibetans have carried out self-immolation protests in Tibet since 2009 (3). Many of these protests have been fatal. Self-immolation protests are almost always carried out in response to the Chinese military occupation of Tibet, which has been in force since 1950, as well as human rights abuses and restrictions on Tibet’s religion and culture carried out under Chinese rule (5).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“This protester is currently nameless, but in the coming days we will learn his name, of his family, of his life. We might learn of the motives for his self-immolation, of the hopes and aspirations he had and the dreams he could never fulfil so long as the Chinese occupation remained in place. China’s brutal occupation, which has cut Tibet off from the world and tries to dictate to the Tibetan people what they can and can’t do, what they can and can’t say, even what they can and can’t believe in, drives people to this ultimate sacrifice. Over 140 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the hope that their struggle against China’s tyranny in Tibet will reverberate beyond Tibet’s borders. It now falls on the world to take notice and to act. Self-immolations stem from the occupation and the human right abuses that keep it in place. The international community must be vocal and tell Beijing to change course and give Tibetans the liberty that they struggle and sometimes die for.”

Information supplied to Free Tibet by Tibet Watch.

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Notes to editors

  1. Location: Kardze County (Ch: Ganzi) Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.
  2. Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYZfrD7JuJM&feature=youtu.be
  3. For further information on Pema Gyaltsen’s case, see: https://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/24-year-old-tibetan-sets-himself-fire-eastern-tibet For details on the police crackdown following his self-immolation, see: https://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/police-arrest-witnesses-site-recent-self-immolation-protest
  4. The first self-immolation in Tibet took place in 2009. There were no further self-immolations until March 2011, with the peak number of self-immolations (83 confirmed cases) taking place in 2012. For a full list of self-immolation protesters see:  http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet
  5. In February 2017, the US think tank Freedom House listed Tibet as the second least free place in the world for political rights and civil liberties, behind only Syria: https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/us-watchdog-tibet-remains-among-least-free-place-world