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Six Tibetans self-immolate as China's National Congress begins PDF Print E-mail
[8 November 2012] Six Tibetans, including three teenage monks and a young mother, have self-immolated over the past 48 hours in four separate protests in different regions of Tibet. Three of the protestors are known to have died. The self-immolations occurred despite heightened security in Tibet imposed to prevent protests during China's National Congress which starts today in Beijing and which is expected to see Xi Jinping succeed Hu Jintao as President.

Five self-immolations took place in Tibet on 7 November and one has already been reported to have occurred on 8 November. The protests took place in Rebkong (Qinghai province), Ngaba (Sichuan), both in eastern Tibet, and in Driru (Tibet Autonomous Region) in central Tibet.

Three teenage monks self-immolate

DorjeeOn 7 November, at approximately 3pm, three teenage monks set themselves on fire in a joint protest in front of a Chinese police station in Gomang, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) county, Ngaba prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Sichuan province).

Dorjee KyabThe three youngsters, Dorjee (15) (above near right), Samdup (16) (above far right) and Dorjee Kyab (16) (below right) were all from Ngoshul monastery. During their protest they called for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Dorjee died at the scene, whilst Samdup and Dorjee Kyab were taken to the Ngaba county hospital by Chinese security personnel. Their current condition is not known.

Following the protests, Ngoshul monastery has been placed under surveillance and security has been tightened across the Ngaba region with restrictions imposed on the movement of local Tibetans. Communication channels to the region have also been blocked.

[Update 10 Nov: The Chinese authorities have not told the families of Samdup and Dorjee Kyab where the boys are or what condition they are in. Also, monks from Ngoshul monastery have been barred from visiting the homes of the families or performing prayers for the young boys.]

Young mother self-immolates
Tamdin TsoOn 7 November, at approximately 5.30pm, Tamdin Tso set fire to herself near Gemar market in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province).

According to an eyewitness quoted by Phayul, Tamdin (also referred to as Tamdrin and Tamding) shouted His Holiness the Dalai Lama must come to Tibet during her protest. The 23 year-old mother died at the scene. Monks from nearby Dawa monastery carried her body to her home for traditional rituals. Tamdin Tso was from in Dro Rongwo in Rebkong county and is survived by her six year-old son.

Following the self-immolation, several thousand Tibetans are reported to have gathered in Rebkong to protest against China's oppressive rule and to say prayers for Tamdin Tso.

[Update 14 Nov: According to Phayul, Tamdin Tso's father has stated that his daughter's self-immolation was for the cause of Tibet and not for any family reasons. Tamdin Kyab said that her protest came after visiting Dowa town and being angered by Chinese government posters which reiterated the ban on pictures of the Dalai Lama and called on Tibetans to stand up against those promoting separatism.]

Self-immolation in Tibet Autonomous Region
A fifth self-immolation on 7 November took place in Bekhar, Driru county (Ch: Briru), Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, Kham (Nagchu is now incorporated into China's Tibet Autonomous Region). The incident took place at approximately 8pm but details, including the name of the protestor and whether or not he/she survived, are yet to be confirmed. The Tibetan government in exile have confirmed the Driru self-immolation.

UPDATE 4 Dec: The self-immolator has been identified as Tsegyal, a 27 year old father of two. Tsegyal set fire to himself in Tingser village in Bekhar township. Due to the Chinese authorities blocking of communications in Tibetan regions full details of the incident are not clear. However, several weeks later it transpired that Tsegyal had been taken into custody by the Chinese authorities and was being held in a police station in Nagchu town. According to sources quoted by TCHRD he was denied medical treatment for his injuries and died in the evening of 18 November.

Sixth self-immolation in 48 hours
Kalsang Jinpa (photo from RFA)Reports are emerging of another self-immolation in Rebkong on 8 November, following the protest of Tamdin Tso the previous day. According to Phayul, Kalsang Jinpa (pictured right, also referred to in some reports as Jinpa Gyatso) died after self-immolating in Rongwo town, Rebkong, eastern Tibet at approximately 4pm local time on 8 November. Kalsang Jinpa, 18, is understood to be a former monk from Rongwo monastery. He apparently was carrying a banner as he set himself on fire which calling for the rights of the Tibetan people to be respected and for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Rongwo protestThousands of Tibetans subsequently gathered in front of Rongwo monastery in protest against the Chinese regime, shouting slogans including freedom for Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama (pictured right). Some Tibetans carried photos of the Dalai Lama, which are banned in Tibet. The situation is described as tense.

Security tightened for National Congress
The self-immolations come as the Chinese Communist Party's 18th National Congress is due to start in Beijing on 8 November. It is expected that the Congress, which runs until 14 November, will announce Xi Jinping as the new leader of the party, taking over from the current president Hu Jintao.

In the build up to the National Congress, the Chinese government imposed tighter restrictions on Tibetans in Tibet and increased security in Tibetan regions. According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, religious festivals and public gatherings have been banned in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan and Gansu provinces in the run up to and during the period of the National Congress.

Many communication channels to Tibetan regions have been blocked or cut in recent weeks, as the authorities attempt to stop information of protests from spreading across the region and prevent reports reaching the outside world. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reported the blocking of internet and phone lines in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (Ch: Gansu province). Local authorities have also closed internet cafes and banned the sale of mobile phone SIM cards.

According to TCHRD, Chinese authorities have placed restrictions on the sale of flammable liquids in an effort to prevent self-immolations. Police are also reported to be confiscating empty water bottles and other plastic containers which could be used to store flammable liquids.

Since February 2009 there have been 69 self-immolations by Tibetans in Tibet, of which 57 Tibetans are known to have died. This year there have been 55 self-immolations, 14 of which have taken place in the past three weeks. The recent increase in self-immolation protests is suspected to be linked to the National Congress in Beijing. Despite security restrictions Tibetans are also taking to the streets to protest against China's ongoing oppressive policies in Tibet. In recent days several large protests, involving thousands of Tibetans, have been reported.

(Please note: Reports on self-immolations and other Tibet news stories between 20 October and 4 November will be posted soon. Our apologies for any inconvenience. Though Tibet Society's vital work continued, we were unable to keep the website up-to-date with the overwhelming amount of news from Tibet, as staff were away. We now hope to be able to continue our regular service.)

Further reading:
RFA I Phayul (a) I Phayul (b) I TCHRDVOA
Updates: RFA (10 Nov)Phayul (13 Nov) I TCHRD (28 Nov) I Phayul (3 Dec)
Kalsang Jinpa: Phayul (c) I Phayul (d) I CTA
China's clampdown in Tibet -
Warning: Phayul (a), Phayul (d), Phayul (13 Nov) & TCHRD pages contain graphic images of self-immolations.

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