Photos by: Norbu Wangyal
Dharamsala – Students for a Free Tibet India and Tibetan Women’s Association have pledged to intensify their actions in response to Monday’s news that two more Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in Chinese-occupied Tibet, bringing the number of confirmed self-immolations since 2009 to 51 (1). Lobsang Kelsang, 18, a monk from Kirti Monastery, and Damchoe, 17, are reported to have self-immolated on the morning of August 27 in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Ch: Aba, Sichuan Province). Both are reported to have died (2).
“The Chinese government has driven more than 50 Tibetans to burn themselves in protest. Beijing has the power to change its policies, withdraw its troops, and end the self-immolations overnight, but instead it continues to exacerbate the Tibetan people’s suffering and grievances,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.
“The tragic cases of self immolations happening inside Tibet are a clear sign of failed Chinese policies. TWA requests global intervention to save Tibetan lives; we ask the world governments to apply multilateral pressure and take action against China to end the crackdown,” said Tashi Dolma, President, Tibetan Women’s Association. “We remain deeply saddened that India has not spoken on this issue. Thus we request for concrete tangible support from the Indian government”
Self-immolation as a political act against Chinese rule has emerged as the most direct and drastic form of protest in Tibet. A staggering 49 self-immolations have taken place in the past 12 months; at least seven in August 2012 alone. At least 40 of these protestors have died. Chinese authorities have responded with violent force, sometimes even beating Tibetans while they are still on fire (4) and overseeing a massive security clampdown in areas where the self-immolations have occurred, including in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
In spite of China’s military clampdown there have also been significant protests in recent weeks in Ngaba, eastern Tibet following the self-immolations of two Tibetans on August 13 (5). On August 14, a mass demonstration took place in Rebkong, Amdo (Ch: Tongren, Qinghai), with several hundred Tibetans gathering outside the police station to protest the unprovoked beating of four Tibetans by intoxicated police officers the previous day (6).
“We call on India to join like-minded governments to immediately establish strong, public, multilateral mechanisms to hold Beijing accountable for its atrocities in Tibet (3),” said Dorjee Tseten, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet India. “We have launched a petition urging Shri S. M. Krishna, the Minister of External Affairs, to support a strong multilateral action for Tibet and will deliver the petition to his office on October 2nd, Gandhi Jayanti The global community can not stand by while China commits atrocities in Tibet.”
Students for a Free Tibet members in several continents are carrying out urgent response protests today and will be joining a Global Day of Action on September 5th to urge Foreign Ministries to take joint action for Tibet during the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly meetings in September. Calls for more public and visible multi-lateral action on the situation in Tibet received a significant boost in August with a letter from US Congressmen Frank Wolf and James McGovern to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, suggesting the US government host an international conference on Tibet, hold periodic public meetings such as a “contact group” on Tibet and discuss setting up a group of like-minded governments at the UN General Assembly (7).
1. For a comprehensive list of all confirmed self-immolations in Tibet, see www.StandupforTibet.org/learn-more. There have also been five instances of self-immolation among exiled Tibetans.
2. Details of the self-immolations on August 27, 2012 were provided by exiled Kirti monks.
3. SFT’s demands targeting the People’s Republic of China:
i. Immediately remove security personnel from Tibetan regions and from individual monasteries and suspend the implementation of religious and security policies in Tibet.
ii. Release all those detained in connection to the self-immolations and account for the whereabouts and well-being of all those who have self-immolated since February 2009.
iii. Allow foreign diplomats and independent foreign media unfettered access to all Tibetan areas.
iv. Address the Tibetan peoples’ legitimate grievances and respond to their demands for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
World governments must:
i. In partnership with other concerned governments, insist that the People’s Republic of China accede to the above demands, including allowing diplomats and media access to Tibetan areas.
ii. Urgently establish, with other concerned governments, an appropriate and effective multi-lateral mechanism through which future diplomatic measures concerning Tibet can be agreed upon and implemented.
iii. Express their concern about the situation in Tibet both publicly and in robust terms directly to Chinese leaders at all opportunities.
4. See http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/vivid-new-footage-shows-young-tibetan-being-beaten-police-while-fire
5. See http://www.tchrd.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=265:indiscriminate-beatings-detentions-mark-two-more-self-immolations-in-ngaba&catid=70:2012-news&Itemid=162
6. See http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/tibetans-rebkong-gather-protest-police-brutality
7. Read the full letter at: https://www.studentsforafreetibet.org/news/us-congressmen-calls-for-more-action-on-tibet