Double self-immolation in eastern Tibet
Reports that two Tibetan teenagers set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule in Tibet have been confirmed. One is reported to have died from his injuries.
Gendun Gyatso and Choekyi Gyatso are both believed to be aged sixteen and carried out self-immolation protests on 9 December in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet.
Sources have reported that the teenagers shouted slogans demanding freedom for Tibet during their protests. There are currently no further details due to restrictions imposed by governing authorities on the area – crackdown measures can include shutting down a region’s entire web access alongside mass arbitrary arrests.
Of the 150-plus confirmed self-immolations that have taken place since 2009, over 40 have now taken place in Ngaba, which is recognised as a hotspot for Tibetan resistance.
Gendun and Choekyi were taken to separate hospitals in Barkham and Khungchu / Kakhog Counties and it has been reported that one of the teenagers has died as a result of his injuries.
The two fire protests follow an unconfirmed case earlier this month which also occurred in Ngaba County. Tibetan news sites claim a man, named as Drugkho and believed to be in his twenties, shouted slogans calling for the long life of the Dalai Lama. Due to an immediate lockdown of the surrounding area, with internet communications completely blocked, no additional details on the incident are available.
A video reportedly showing Drugkho’s uncle claiming that his nephew died of burns caused during a motorbike accident, and not by self-immolation, has recently surfaced. Video here:
Reports that Chinese authorities have often pressured those close to self-immolation activists is not unheard of: The husband of 30-year-old Kunchok Wangmo, who set herself on fire near a military base in Dzoege County in March 2013, remains on death row – authorities insist he murdered his wife. A link to the report about pressure brought to bear by Chinese authorities on the husband of Kunchok Wangmo can be found here: goo.gl/Ht7QQL
Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Free Tibet Director, said: “Once again China has demonstrated that it is far more concerned about appearances than human rights. Two, possibly three, young men have just given their lives to protest the oppression Tibetans are forced to endure under Chinese occupation, yet China’s priority is to covering up the facts and pretend it didn’t happen. In Beijing’s mind-set, nothing must be allowed to contradict its narrative that Tibet is peaceful and Tibetans are happy. I am reminded of the saying that people are more likely to believe a big lie than a small lie and the supposed happiness of Tibetans is certainly one of China’s biggest lies.”
Sam Wylde, Media & Communications Officer, Free Tibet Campaign.
Free Tibet kindly asked Modern Tokyo Times to publish
Image taken from the Free Tibet website