News / Asia

Another Tibetan Dies After Self-Immolation

Tibetan Self-Immolations through November 26, 2012.
Tibetan Self-Immolations through November 26, 2012.
VOA News
Tibetans in exile say that a young man died Tuesday after setting himself on fire outside a government building in China's Sichuan province.  

A spokesman for the Kirti Monastery in Dharamsala, India, told VOA Tibetan Service that 24-year-old Kalsang Kyab poured kerosene over himself in front of the Kangsa Township government building in Amdo Ngaba area.  The spokesman, Kanyag Tsering, quoted witnesses as saying the victim shouted slogans of support for Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as he was dying.

VOA's Tibetan Service reports that four more Tibetans set themselves on fire Sunday and Monday in Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai provinces in other self-immolations to hit western China.

Since 2009, at least 85 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to protest what they say is Beijing's repression of their culture and religion.  Nearly a third (23) of those self-immolations occurred in the past month, as China prepared for its 10-yearly power handover.

Analysts say the Tibetan struggle against Chinese rule may have entered a new phase judging by the recent increase in self-immolation protests.

Robert Barnett of New York's Columbia University told VOA that the self-immolations seem to have become more deliberate in recent weeks.

He says the first phase of self-immolations began last year with monks and nuns trying to protect their monasteries from security crackdowns.

But he notes that the second wave, which occurred for most of the past year, involved individuals in small towns sharing sympathy with those monks and nuns.

"But now in this phase we have laypeople staging these immolations in ways that are much more determined in an attempt to get a response from Chinese authorities, by having immolations in clusters, very close together, many on the same day or within a few days and many in the same place," said Barnett.

James Leibold, a Tibet analyst for Australia's Latrobe University in Beijing, tells VOA that a broader segment of the Tibetan community is also involved in the latest protests.

"We've got the provinces that sort of surround the Tibetan autonomous region all having self-immolations in the last couple months, as well as the diversity of the people involved, in terms of age ranges, in terms of occupations.  Both laypeople and monks and nuns [are] involved in these self-immolations.  Without a doubt, it's really reaching a crisis point," said Leibold.

Many activists, including Tenzin Dolkar of the advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet, say the increase in self-immolations is aimed at sending a message to China's new leaders that Tibetans will continue their non-violent struggle for freedom.

"It seems Tibetans are really trying to put the Tibet issue on the map for the new Chinese leadership and to make sure Tibet truly becomes the top priority as Xi Jinping and his team take over," said Dolkar.

Some hold out hope that Xi Jinping, who is taking over China's top leadership spot, will be more sympathetic toward the plight of Tibetans, since his late father had a close relationship with the Dalai Lama in the 1950s.

But Leibold says so far there is no indication that the government has changed its position on Tibet.

"Sadly, we hear the same rhetoric coming out of Beijing, and Chinese officials continually blaming a few black hands for collaborating with the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan community to stir up trouble and to damage China's ethnic unity and harmony.  There's just absolutely no will, it seems, to admit a failure of policy," he said.

China says Tibetans enjoy full religious freedom and benefit from better living standards linked to Chinese investment in underdeveloped Tibetan regions.  Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the self-immolations to promote Tibetan separatism, a charge he denies.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: BobJ from: USA
November 27, 2012 3:28 PM
The Chinese intend to take stern and punitive action against the families, local officials and general populations of towns in which these immolations take place. Find a translation of their official decree on the subject here :

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs