News / Asia

China Detains Hundreds After Tibet Immolations

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Chinese police reportedly have detained hundreds of people as part of a security lockdown in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, after two people set themselves on fire there earlier this week to protest Chinese rule.

The U.S. government-backed Radio Free Asia cited a local source late Wednesday as saying that Chinese authorities have locked up about 600 Tibetan residents.  It said many others from outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region have been expelled.

On Sunday, two young men set themselves on fire outside Lhasa's famous Jokhang Temple, in the first such incident to take place in the heavily guarded Tibetan capital.  State media say one of the protesters died at the scene, while the other was hospitalized.

The crackdown comes as exile groups reported Wednesday that a mother of three young children in a largely Tibetan area of southwestern China died after setting herself on fire, in an another apparent protest against Chinese rule.

The protester, identified as Rikyo, 33, died in front of the Jonang Dzamthang monastery in a prefecture known by Tibetans as Ngaba and located in Sichuan Province.  

The head of the Jonang Welfare Association, Tsangyang Gyatso, says the protester was a neighbor of three young Tibetans who set themselves on fire earlier this year while demanding the safe return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Tibet Immolation MapTibet Immolation Map
Tibet Immolation Map
Tibet Immolation Map
Anti-China protests have rocked southwestern China and neighboring Tibet for the past 14 months, as Buddhist monks, nuns and their supporters push their demands for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama.

John Powers, a professor of Asian studies at Australian National University says that many Tibetans feel the self-immolations are necessary because an unofficial state of martial law in their region has restricted other ways of expressing dissatisfaction.

"The Chinese state has upped the level of oppression so much that now it's really only possible to stage individual protests, and that's one of the reasons why these very public, very dramatic self-immolations are taking place - because the Tibetans really have no other options," Powers said.

China says the immolations incite separatism and are directed from outside the country.  But representatives of the Dalai Lama, who lives in northern India, say protesters are driven to self-immolate in large part because they can no longer tolerate Beijing's ongoing push against Tibetan culture and religion.

This week's immolations follow a new Chinese move to ban Tibetan Buddhists, including current and former government officials, students, and party members, from engaging in religious practices during the sacred month of Saka Dawa, which began May 21.  Saka Dawa commemorates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous from: US
June 04, 2012 12:29 AM
It's about time for the living god Dalai Lama to come out from the shadows to tell his followers to stop sacrifice themselves unnecessarily. Religion makes fools of some of the most innocent people. I'm just horrified that Dalai Lama can sit there idly while his followers killing themselves in the name of Buddism.

by: Fred from: Changsha, china
June 01, 2012 5:56 AM
buy an air ticket and fly tibetan by yourself. i visisted tibet two years ago, and i witnessed the religious freedom of tibetans as well as the free trip of countless foreigners. No one conducted any ristrictions on the religious service there. Even foreigners can pray if they want to do it. Self-immolation is anything but a honorable protest or an justified solution to any troubles. you can visit the native tibetans and interview them about the economic changes that have taken place in this land during the past half century before making any comments. visit before comment, OK?

by: Happiness from: Las Vegas
June 01, 2012 3:58 AM
"James from Australia":

What history are you talking about? How far back to you want to go? In that case maybe the Mongolians should claim China if you want to talk history. It's amazing how the Chinese propaganda claims Tibet when the two cultures, language are totally different. Yeah....agreed China has provided for economic development in the region however, every Tibetan understands it is yet another propaganda by the Chinese govt. and Tibetans know it could all be taken away within matter of seconds if the govt. chose to do where is

by: Anonymous
May 31, 2012 9:56 PM
Be here to discuss what is truth & right regardless of who from where. Why care even if he is from Mars as long as he is the telling the truth.

by: George from: China
May 31, 2012 9:32 PM
I don't like to lable someone just by words but I have to say that those whoever stimulating, watching, encouraging & inspired by those self-immolations are real killers for his gloomy purpose no matter what he was entitled and what slogans he declared!

by: a real Chinese
May 31, 2012 9:29 AM
You think you are a Chinese friend? I think you are a lier. you are not a Chinese friend, nor are you an Australian. You must be a Chinese backed by Chinese government speaking here for propaganda

by: James from: Australia
May 31, 2012 7:57 AM
I hope those people who don't even speak Chinese stop abusing and assailling China. You don't know about Tibet, you don't know about China. Tibet is apart of China for thousands of years. Moreover, to those people who still think Beijing government is "oppression" Tibet, please, read about some real history, or purchase a flight ticket to Tibet and have a look by your own eyes, have a look at a real Tibet, to see is that like what you've heard from those "politicians". I wanna say, Tibet has been much more developed than fifty years before. Tibet residents want peaceful life, I beg those politicians, stop, stop sacrifice those innocent residents to achieve your “dream”. To all the American people, maybe I’m not so familiar with your country’s history and culture, but I heard and I understand that your country is built for peaceful, freedom and love, so please, please stops supporting those separatism, if you know the truth, you will understand that they are no different from BIN LADEN! -- A Chinese Friend.

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