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Two Tibetan women self-immolate in run-up to anniversary PDF Print E-mail
[5 March 2012] Two Tibetan women have died after setting fire to themselves in separate incidents in eastern Tibet just days before the anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. This brings to 24 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in the past year, of which 18 are known to have died.

Tseing KyiOn 3 March, Tsering Kyi (pictured right), a 19 year-old student, self-immolated in the middle of a busy vegetable market in Machu (Chinese: Maqu), Kanlho (Gannan) prefecture in Gansu province. A witness said that Chinese vendors at the market threw stones at Tsering's burning body. Tsering died at the scene and her body was taken away by police.

Following the self-immolation, the first to have occurred in Gansu province, local authorities attempted to stop news of the incident from spreading. Mobile phones were confiscated, websites shut down and people at the scene of the protests instructed not to talk about the protest.

Students from Tibetan Middle School in Machu have previously been involved in protests, mainly against the Chinese government's education policies. In October 2010 Tibetan students in Gansu and Qinghai provinces protested against government plans to introduce a curriculum taught primarily in the Chinese language.

RinchenOn 4 March, a 32 year-old widow and mother, Rinchen (pictured right), set fire to herself in front of Kirti monastery in Ngaba, Sichuan province. During her protest Rinchen shouted for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet and for freedom for Tibet. Rinchen succumbed to her injuries at the scene.

The incident took place in front of a Chinese police surveillance station at the main entrance to Kirti monastery. The monastery has been under virtual  lockdown for the past 12 months, following the self-immolation of Kirti monk, Phuntsok, on 16 March 2011.

Rinchen was a mother to four children, the eldest being 13 and the youngest only a few weeks old. Her husband died in 2011.

Security in both Ngaba and Machu regions has been tightened since the protests. The incidents come just days before the 10 March anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.

Tseing Kyi and Rinchen are the first known Tibetan lay-persons to have self-immolated. All the previous cases have been by monks, nuns or former monks. [It has yet to be confirmed if Nangdrol, who died after self-immolating on 19 February, was a former monk or a lay-person.] They are also only the fourth and fifth females to have undertaken the tragic act. Twelve self-immolations have now taken place in first nine weeks of 2012 , the same number as throughout 2011.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul (5 Mach) I Phayul (4 March)
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