News / Asia

Report: Tibetan Threatening Self-Immolation Dies Mysteriously

Tibetan exile walks past Rapid Action Force personnel at Majnu Ka Tila, a Tibetan refugee camp, New Delhi, March 27, 2012.
Tibetan exile walks past Rapid Action Force personnel at Majnu Ka Tila, a Tibetan refugee camp, New Delhi, March 27, 2012.
A Tibetan man who disappeared under mysterious circumstances is presumed dead, with activists accusing Chinese security forces of orchestrating his murder.
 
The man, 57-year-old Dorjee Rabten, had been prepared to set himself on fire to protest Chinese rule.
 
Gyaltsen Choedak, an exiled Tibetan with close contacts in the region, says Rabten had traveled to the city of Siling when he met his end.
 
Tibet Self-Immolation Map, October 4, 2012 updateTibet Self-Immolation Map, October 4, 2012 update
x
Tibet Self-Immolation Map, October 4, 2012 update
Tibet Self-Immolation Map, October 4, 2012 update
"On August 23, Chinese security personnel murdered Dorjee Rabten in Siling's 'Pachen' guest house," said Choedak. "When his family could not reach him, they went to the guest house to look for him. The Chinese security official called Dorjee Rabten’s elder son Drukjham Gyal and told him that he should come at once to pick up the body and that he has to sign a document – if he does not sign, he won’t get the body. He was also warned that he could not bring any other member of his family."
 
But Choedak says the son never got the body or an explanation of how his father died. Instead, he was given what he was told was his father’s ashes and a warning that the family would face severe consequences if they shared anything about the death with outsiders.
 
Choedak and other sources, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, accuse Chinese security forces of killing Dorjee Rabten to prevent him from immolating himself in protest of China's Tibet policies.
 
VOA made numerous phone calls to the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Chinese Consulate General in New York, but was unable to reach any officials for comment in for publication.
 
Increased arrests
 
If true, the accusation would represent a significant escalation in China's ongoing crackdown against Tibetans pushing for more autonomy. 
 
According to Sophie Richardson, China director for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, Beijing's crackdown on Tibetan activists has become increasingly intrusive.
 
"[They're] placing more officials in monasteries, arresting monks, denying people access to the bodies of loved ones who've immolated," she said, adding that her group issued a report in July charging Beijing with blocking Tibetans in China from accessing uncensored news. "It really is sort of adding insult to injury."
 
Over the past several months, Chinese security forces have stepped up arrests, pursuing anyone involved with self-immolations; several monks were recently detained for taking pictures of a self-immolation, and in early October police in Nagchu arrested about 30 people after a 43-year-old man who set himself on fire in protest – including the victim's uncle, sister and brother-in-law.
 
Richardson says just the threat of more immolations is changing the way Chinese security forces patrol the streets.
 
"It's now fairly easy to photograph different parts of the security forces in downtown Lhasa, for example, walking around not just heavily armed with weapons, but carrying fire extinguishers as preparations to put out these immolations should they happen spontaneously," she said.
 
A question of timing
 
Since February of 2009, at least 57 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese policies in Tibet. While the Tibetan government-in-exile says 47 of those cases have resulted in deaths, there are no confirmed cases of Chinese officials stopping a potential self-immolation by killing the would-be protester.
 
According to Mary Beth Markey, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, while Chinese security officials have increasingly turned to intimidation and punishment as part of what she calls a misguided effort to control the flow of information, it has long appeared there was a limit to how far Beijing was willing to go.
 
"The Chinese response on the ground seems to be a great show of force, an attempt to exert control, but in the main it has not been a violent response," she said, adding that the upcoming change in leadership would make it a strange time for Beijing to change tactics.
 
"With all the tremendous concerns that this transition go smoothly," she said, "I don't think the Chinese are looking for any extreme responses inside Tibet." 
 
China has long accused Tibetan exiles of self-immolating as part of a separatist struggle, denouncing them as terrorists, while representatives of the Dalai Lama say protesters are driven to self-immolate because they cannot tolerate China's repressive policies.
 
Gary Locke, U.S. State Department ambassador to China, recently visited two monasteries in Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province, which has seen 26 of self-immolations since 2009.
 
The visit was part of Locke’s first trip as ambassador to a predominantly ethnic-Tibetan region of the country.

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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid