News / Asia

Hundreds of Tibetan Students Demonstrate for More Freedom

Hundreds of students have taken to the streets in eastern Tibet to demonstrate support for protestors who are demanding greater freedoms under Chinese rule.

The protest Friday in the town of Rongwo in Rebkong, eastern Tibet - called Quighai Province in Chinese - was in reaction to the death Thursday of 18-year-old Kalsang Jinpa who died after setting himself on fire.

Witnesses said the former monk raised a white banner calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet.  They also said the protest drew a large crowd and the situation there remains tense.

Word of the new protests came as China opened its 18th Party Congress in Beijing for a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.

Rebkong has now seen five self-immolation protests since March, including Wednesday's fatal protest by 23-year-old single mother Tamding Tso.

Tibetan exiles also confirmed Thursday that another man set himself on fire a day earlier in Driru, in Nagchu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

On Wednesday, three teenage monks from the Ngoshul Monastery in Goman Township set themselves afire.  One of them died on the scene.

The new self-immolations bring the total number to at least 69 since February of 2009.  In 54 cases, the protesters have died.

In Dharamsala, India Thursday exiled Tibetans gathered to pay homage to the protesters during a special prayer service.

One of them, Lamsa, expressed hope the fiery protests would resonate with the rest of the world.

"We want them [world community] to show their support.  We want them to know what exactly is happening in Tibet," Lamsa. "We also want them to send press (media) in Tibet to know the facts.''

He also said it was no coincidence the protests took place just as China embarked on its leadership transition.

"This is because there is no freedom in Tibet and they are shouting for the freedom of Tibet and also for the return of his holiness, the Dalai Lama, back to his homeland," he said.

London-based Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden agreed, saying the protests were clearly aimed "at sending the next generation of China’s unelected regime a clear signal that Tibetans will continue to fight for their freedom despite China’s efforts to suppress and intimidate them."

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch cautions against drawing any conclusions about the timing of the latest protests, though HRW China Director Sophie Richardson calls the latest wave distressing.

"Until we see the Chinese government take steps toward meaningfully and seriously dealing with the kinds of grievances people in the region are articulating, we're going to see more of these," she said.

Richardson also says there are no indications Chinese leadership will take any public notice of the self-immolations during the much-watched Party Congress.

"I'm skeptical there will be any public or discernable discussion about Tibet or immolations except, perhaps, as vague references in the context of broader discussions about security and the quest for a more harmonious society," she added.

But Richardson says it is likely Chinese officials are talking about Tibet behind the scenes, especially given the way Tibetans are responding to the self-immolations.  

Funerals and cremation ceremonies for self-immolators have been drawing larger and larger crowds, sometimes numbering the thousands.  Often, there is little notice such memorials are about to take place, suggesting Tibetans are managing to spread the word about the protests despite the ongoing Chinese crackdown on sharing information.

"That has to have caught their [Chinese security officials'] attention," Richardson explained. "Whether they have any intention of responding to those in a rational way that is geared towards understanding and responding to the grievances really remains to be seen.  But I think until that happens we are going to get more of this heart-breaking news."

On Wednesday, Tibet's government-in-exile pleaded with China to change its approach to the issue of Tibet.

Parliament Speaker Pempa Tsering says it may be the only way to stop the deadly protests.  He also lamented that many Tibetans feel they have no choice but to burn themselves alive to make their cries heard.  

China has long accused Tibetan exiles of self-immolating as part of a separatist struggle, denouncing them as terrorists.

VOA's Tibetan service reported last month the offer of cash rewards in China's Gannan prefecture, called Kanlho prefecture by Tibetans.  Posters promised $8,000 to anyone who provides information "on the people who plan, incite to carry out, control and lure people to commit self-immolation."

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
November 09, 2012 12:23 PM
Tibetans are demonstrating across the Tibetan Plateau that they do not want to live under Chinese. They want freedom from Chinese imperialism, the return of the His Holiness, and their own country back. This is a nationalist, anti-colonial movement which will not stop. China will have to kill all Tibetans in order to stop the Tibetan freedom movement.

by: Anonymous
November 09, 2012 5:55 AM
It's Qinghai Province,not Quighai province, you stupid and arrogant american

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

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