Chinese Communist Party Congress opens: 5 Tibetans self immolate for freedom

Posted on November 8, 2012

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The highest number of self immolations ever in one day. Three teenage monks and a 23 year-old mother; the identity of the fifth still unknown. Two died on the spot. All of them called out for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and an end to Chinese occupation. With them, the number of self immolations has risen to 68 Tibetans.

Tibetans and supporters of a ‘Free Tibet’ hold placards during a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate Los Angeles on March 10, 2012 in California. Tibetan exile leaders have called for an end to the self-immolations. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

In the most dramatic incident of its kind, three Tibetan teenage monks, a young mother, and another Tibetan, set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule on the eve of the Communist Party’s 18th National Party Congress.

The three monks, aged 15 and 16, set themselves on fire in Sichuan Province’s Ngaba near Ngoshul Monastery, where a number of self-immolations have taken place in recent months, according to the Free Tibet advocacy group. The 15-year-old monk, named Dorjee, died and two survived, but their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Tibetan exile leaders have called for an end to the self-immolations. They and human rights groups say that Tibetans are driven to setting themselves on fire out of desperation because of repressive policies used by the Chinese regime.

Local Chinese authorities stepped up security in the area, as is usually the practice when such an incident takes place.

“The three self-immolated in front of the Ngatoe Gomang police station in the evening” in the afternoon on Wednesday, exiled monk Lobsang Yeshi told Radio Free Asia. He said that surviving monks Samdrub and Dorje Kyab were taken to a local hospital.

It is the first time that three Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the same place, and it is the first time that five self-immolation incidents took place on the same day. Now, around 68 Tibetan self-immolations have taken place since early 2009 and many of those who partook were young monks.

The Tibetans likely chose to burn themselves ahead of the start of the anticipated 18th National Party Congress that starts on Thursday. The Congress will last a week, and will see a leadership change in the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party. In recent days in some Tibetan areas, the Chinese regime has cut telecommunications and electricity lines, deployed security forces, and sentenced monks and other Tibetans to long jail terms, according to Tibetan groups.

A 23-year-old young Tibetan mother identified as Tamdrin Tso from Malho prefecture in Qinghai Province also set herself on fire and died at the scene, reported RFA.

“Over the last 15 days, Tamdrin Tso had performed prayers for other self-immolation protesters in Tibet, and today she set herself on fire,” said Dorje Wangchuk of Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala, India, who quoted sources inside Tibetan areas.

In the fifth incident, a Tibetan set themselves ablaze in Driru county, Nagchu prefecture, of the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to the broadcaster.

“There was a lot of commotion, and there were shouts at the scene by the Tibetans. The Chinese security forces arrived immediately, but details, such as the name of the self-immolator, remain unknown,” said a Tibetan monk, who was not identified.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in an address on self-immolations, called on Chinese authorities to address the grievances of Tibetans.

“I recognize Tibetans’ intense sense of frustration and despair which has led them to resort to such extreme means,” Pillay said last Friday. “But there are other ways to make those feelings clear.”

Epoch Times

Lhasa (AsiaNews) – On the eve of the Chinese Communist Party Congress, five Tibetans have set themselves on fire to demand the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and the end of the Beijing regime. The episode is confirmed by Radio Free Asia. It is the first time that so many self immolations have taken place on the same day. The authors of the gesture are three teenage monks (Ngaba Prefecture, Sichuan province) and a young mother (Malho Prefecture, Qinghai province). The identity of the fifth (Nagchu Prefecture, Tibetan Autonomous Region) is not yet known, nor his or her conditions. So far, at least two Tibetans have believed to have died. Yesterday’s self immolations brings the number of Tibetans who have chosen to die by fire in protest against Beijing to 68.

The three monks-Dorje, 15; Samdrub, 16; Dorje Kyab, 16, set themselves on fire in front of the Ngaba police station, chanting slogans for a free Tibet and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. “Dorje – refers monk Lobsang Yeshi- died immediately, while the other two were brought to the County hospital “. The young boys all come from the monastery of Ngoshul, and are the youngest Tibetans to have ever chosen self immolation.

Malho Prefecture, Tamdrin Tso (see photo), a 23-year-old mother set herself on fire in Gemar market (Rebgong County) and died shortly after. Dorje Wangchuck, Director of Literary and Culture Research Centre of Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala, reports that “over the past 15 days, Tamdrin Tso has repeatedly prayed for those who have self immolated for Tibet”. She leaves a son, Nyingjam Tsering, of 5-6 years, her husband Kyab Tamdrin and her mother, Konchog Tso.

After her action, approximately 3 thousand Tibetans gathered in the market area, where there is a school and several stores, singing slogans against the Chinese regime. The immolation of Tamdrin Tso is the second in Rebgong in a week. November 4 in fact, Dorjee Lhundrub, a 25-year-old artist set himself on fire and died.

The fifth immolation yesterday occurred in the town of Bekhar, in Driru County (Nagchu prefecture). Local sources report that the Chinese police arrived on the site immediately after but nothing is yet known about the author of the gesture.

For Sophie Richardson, head of the Chinese section for Human Rights Watch, the self immolations are “extraordinary acts of desperation”, which “continue because there is no meaningful response from the central government, which has the ability to change the situation for the better.”

Meanwhile, the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress (CPC) opened today which will see the end of government of Hu Jintao and the birth of the “fifth generation” of leaders, led-according to most forecasts-by Xi Jinping, current Vice-President. But while State media enhance the economic and political results of this last decade, the population of Beijing and other Chinese cities look indifferently at the event, having no say in the matter.

Five Tibetans Self-Immolate

In a record day of burnings, Tibetans call for the return of the Dalai Lama and an end to Chinese rule.

Five Tibetans, including a young mother and three teenage boys, set fire to themselves on Wednesday in protest against Chinese rule in the largest number of self-immolations in a single day, triggering massive demonstrations in at least one area, according to exile and local sources.

The burnings—which raised the self-immolation toll to 68 so far—came ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s highly anticipated Congress beginning Thursday, which is expected to endorse Vice President Xi Jinping as successor to President Hu Jintao in a once-a-decade leadership transition.

At least two of the self-immolators have died.

Three of the self-immolations occurred in Sichuan province’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture and one each in Qinghai province’s Malho (Huangnan) prefecture and in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the sources said.

The three boys—monks Dorje, 15, Samdrub, 16, and Dorje Kyab, 16—set themselves ablaze in front of a police station in Ngaba town, calling for a free Tibet and the return of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, according to monks Lobsang Yeshi and Kanyag Tsering, who live in India’s hill town of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.

“The three self-immolated in front of the Ngatoe Gomang police station in the evening at around 3:00 p.m.,” Lobsang Yeshi said, citing local sources.

“Dorje, who died at the scene, Samdrub, and Dorje Kyab are monks from the Ngoshul monastery,” Lobsang Yeshi said.

“Samdrub and Dorje Kyab have been taken to the Ngaba county hospital. Now there is a severe security clampdown restricting any movement in the streets,” he said.

Mother dies

In the Malho prefecture, a 23-year-old Tibetan mother of a young son set fire to herself and died in the Gemar market area of Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county, drawing several thousand Tibetans to the streets in a protest against Chinese rule.

Tamdrin Tso set herself ablaze at about 6:00 p.m. and died shouting slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, local sources said.

Tamdrin Tso came originally from the Dro Rongwo township of Rebgong county, sources said. She leaves behind a son, Nyingjam Tsering, aged 5 or 6, and her father, Tamdrin Kyab, and mother, Konchog Tso.

“Over the last 15 days, Tamdrin Tso had performed prayers for other self-immolation protesters in Tibet, and today she set herself on fire,” Dorje Wangchuk, director of the Literary and Culture Research Centre of the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala, citing sources in the region.

Following the burning, around 3,000 local Tibetans gathered in the Gemar market area, a central location with a school and many shops, and shouted slogans calling for freedom for Tibet, sources said.

Tamdrin Tso’s self-immolation was the second to occur in the Rebgong area this week.

Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.
An undated photo of young mother Tamdrin Tso, who died after self-immolating on Nov. 7, 2012.

On Nov. 4, Tibetan artist Dorjee Lhundrub, 25, set himself ablaze and shouted slogans against Chinese rule and calling for the Dalai Lama’s return as he burned to death.

A large crowd of local monks and township residents then gathered at the site, with many placing traditional Tibetan scarves on Lhundrub’s charred remains as a mark of respect for the father of two, sources said.

Protests intensify

Wednesday’s fifth self-immolation occurred in Bekhar township in Driru county, Nagchu prefecture, of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

“I learned about the self-immolation at 8:00 p.m., as it happened, while I was speaking on the phone,” said a Tibetan monk living in South India, citing contacts in the region.

“There was a lot of commotion, and there were shouts at the scene by the Tibetans. The Chinese security forces arrived immediately, but details, such as the name of the self-immolator, remain unknown,” the monk said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Tibetan self-immolation protests have intensified in recent weeks and may have entered a new phase, some analysts have said.

And the failure to contain the fiery protests, the analysts say, poses a major challenge to Beijing, which has offered cash rewards to Tibetans to inform on potential self-immolators and has tightened security restrictions on Tibetan monasteries and towns.

The burnings continue despite calls to end them by a special meeting of Tibetan exile groups convened in Dharamsala on the advice of the Dalai Lama.

‘No meaningful response’

Sophie Richardson, China Director for Human Rights Watch, described the self-immolation protests as “extraordinary acts of desperation.”

“And they continue because there is no meaningful response from the central government, which has the ability to change the situation for the better.”

“It has to be profoundly unnerving to [China’s] leadership that not only has this continued for as long as it has, but that you see different age groups, you see religious figures, you see people from urban areas and rural areas, men and women, young and old,” Richardson said.

“The number and scope of cases suggest that this is a more thoroughgoing statement or expression of despair than the Chinese government would have you believe it is.”

RFA

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