News / Asia

More Tibetans Self-Immolate as China's Party Congress Opens

Tibetan Self-Immolations, updated November 8, 2012Tibetan Self-Immolations, updated November 8, 2012
x
Tibetan Self-Immolations, updated November 8, 2012
Tibetan Self-Immolations, updated November 8, 2012
Two more Tibetans have set themselves afire to protest Chinese policies in Tibet, raising the total of self-immolation protests to six in the past two days.

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

On Thursday 18-year-old Kalsang Jinpa died after setting himself on fire in Rongwo town in Rebkong, eastern Tibet (called Qinghai Province in Chinese).

Witnesses say the former monk raised a white banner calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet.  They also say the protest drew a large crowd and the situation there remains tense.
 
Rebkong has now seen five self-immolation protests since March, including Wednesday's fatal protest by a 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.

Tamding Tso, a Tibetan mother activists say self-immolated in Rebkong, China on November 7, 2012.Tamding Tso, a Tibetan mother activists say self-immolated in Rebkong, China on November 7, 2012.
x
Tamding Tso, a Tibetan mother activists say self-immolated in Rebkong, China on November 7, 2012.
Tamding Tso, a Tibetan mother activists say self-immolated in Rebkong, China on November 7, 2012.
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.  We also want them to send press [media] in Tibet to know the facts," said Lamsa.

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," said Lamsa.

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," said Richardson.

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 said.

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.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at a news conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo November 5, 2012.Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at a news conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo November 5, 2012.
x
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at a news conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo November 5, 2012.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at a news conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo November 5, 2012.
"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," Lamsa 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."

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 covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs