News / Asia

Protests Follow Wave of Immolations in Tibetan Areas of China

William Ide

Tibet analysts and human rights advocates say the spread of protests in Tibetan parts of China are the latest sign of growing dissatisfaction among Tibetans with Chinese government policies. And there is concern now, they say, that the situation could get much worse.

Concern about protests in Tibetan areas of China, particularly in the southwestern province of Sichuan, have been building since March of last year. Since then, at least 16 Tibetan monks and nuns, and some former monks have burned themselves to death to protest China's policies.

Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch in Washington D.C. says that while some may have hoped the immolations were isolated incidents and an aberration, it is clear now that this is not the case.

"The numbers of them (immolations) that we've seen, even just in the past couple of weeks, the fact that they are spreading geographically, the fact that there are now other kinds of protests going on, some of them related to the immolations, some of them not, but all of them clearly expressing unhappiness with Chinese government policies, indicates that this problem is getting worse and not better," she said.

Steve Marshall is a senior advisor for the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, who has spent more than two decades researching human rights violations in Tibetan areas of China. He says that what is happening in Tibetan areas, the protests this week and immolations, is a sign that things have already gotten out of control.

"I think things are already moving farther than Chinese authorities want them to be and they are becoming bigger. And certainly the methods that the Chinese security forces and government are using to deal with these protests are having exactly the opposite effect that the government would like," he said.

In addition to two protests that occurred in Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province on Monday and Tuesday sources tell VOA's Tibetan service that the authorities arrested at least eight men Tuesday in the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of neighboring Sichuan's Qinghai Province. Sources say hundreds had rallied there to protest, demanding the withdraw of security and military forces that have been deployed around two monasteries in the area.

Earlier Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry played down the reports of protests Monday in Sichuan's Luhuo, but did confirm that one person was killed in the confrontation.

The ministry says reports of more than 30 shooting victims among several thousand Tibetan protesters who participated on Monday in Luhuo were, in his words, "hyped" (exaggerated).   

The U.S. State Department says it is seriously concerned about reports of violence and heightened tensions in Tibetan areas of China.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "We have repeatedly urged the Chinese government to address its counterproductive policies in the Tibetan areas, which have created tensions and threaten the unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people."

The U.S. is also urging the Chinese government to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives and that they will raise the issue when China's Vice President Xi Jinping visits Washington next month.

China has refused to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, and routinely blames him for orchestrating unrest in Tibetan areas of China from overseas. It has also branded those who have decided to burn themselves to death as terrorists.

Still, with the March anniversary of last year's first immolation on the horizon and the anniversary of widespread protests in 2008, which also began in March of that year, analysts say that over the next two months we may see dissent continue to grow and spread.

Again, Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch. "I think unfortunately we are going to see more immolations, more protests and more heavy-handed responses. It's up to the Chinese government, at this point, to uphold some very basic obligations under its own laws and under its international commitments to the right to peaceful protest to refraining from using lethal force," she said.

Tibetans who participated in demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday were said to be protesting the earlier arrests of some activists distributing pamphlets calling for Tibetan freedom from Chinese rule.  The pamphlets also warned that more Tibetans were ready to set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese crackdown.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs