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Two self-immolations in Tibet as China unveils new leader PDF Print E-mail
[16 November 2012] On the day Xi Jinping was announced as the new head of China's Communist Party, two young Tibetans self-immolated in eastern Tibet in apparent protests against China's occupation of Tibet. Both protestors died. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of self-immolations in Tibet in the run-up to and during China's National Congress.

Kharbum GyalOn 15 November, at about 11am local time, 18 year-old Kharbum Gyal (pictured right) set himself on fire in a street in Rongwo town, Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) county, Malho (Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province). He died at the scene. Hundreds of people reportedly gathered for his funeral. Khabum Gyal was from Gyalpo Luchu in Rebgong county.

Tangzin DolmaApproximately one hour after Khabum Gyal's protest, Tangzin Dolma (pictured right, some reports refer to her as Tenzin Dolma), 23, self-immolated in the courtyard of a local temple in the Tsemo region of Rebkong county. According to sources quoted by VOA, Tangzin Dolma shouted slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet during her protest. She died at the scene. Sources indicated a large number of Tibetans were gathering in the evening of 15 November in Tsemo for her funeral. Tangzin Dolma was from a nomadic family and lived in Tsenmo Goge village in Rebkong county.

Dorjee Lhundrup funeralThere have now been seven self-immolations reported in the Rebkong region since 4 November. There have also been mass protests in the Rebkong region this month. Following the self-immolation of Dorjee Lhundrup on 4 November, thousands of Tibetans gathered at the subsequent funeral service (pictured right) and shouted slogans calling for freedom from Chinese rule. On 8 and 9 November thousands of Tibetans peacefully protested in the streets of Rebkong (pictured right, below). Up to 6,000 students protested in front of Chinese government offices in Rongwo town.

Rebkong student protestThe Chinese authorities have cut communications to the region, making it dificult to get full details of the protests and the individuals involved. Internet and phone lines have been blocked, in an apparent effort to prevent the reporting of protests and self-immolations during the Communist Party's National Congress. The Congress concluded yesterday with the announcement of the new Politburo Standing Committee, which includes Xi Jinping, the new head (General Secretary) of the Chinese Communist Party. Xi Jinping is expected to formally take over the role of President from Hu Jintao next year.

The dramatic rise in self-immolations in the past four weeks (19 between 20 October and 15 November; compared to 39 over the first nine months of 2012) is attributed to China's National Congress and the intense crackdown imposed by the Chinese authorities to prevent disturbances.

There have now been 74 self-immolations in Tibet since the first one was recorded in February 2009. Sixty-one self-immolations have taken place in 2012. The majority of self-immolators in Tibet have called for freedom for Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet during their protests.

Further reading: Phayul (1) I Phayul (2) I RFA I VOA
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