- Two young Tibetans from the Chinese province of Gansu set themselves on fire
and died from serious burns. The
incident occurred yesterday afternoon, in one of the worst weeks for the
community in the fight against what they call "the imperialism of
Beijing" and "cultural genocide" of the minority. In
a few days, in fact, five people have self-immolated for the cause, bringing to
nine victims in the month of October and the 60th since February 2009, when protests
against China exploded for full religious freedom and ask
for the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
In the first case, 24 year old Lhamo Tseten set himself on fire around 2.30 pm local time. The young man self-immolated near a barracks of the People's Armed Police in the town of Amchok, Sangchu County, in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Kanlho. The other incident occurred six hours later when the 21 year old Tsepak Kyab - of Tibetan origin but resident in India for years - died of burns on the main street of the town of Sangkhok, also in Sangchu.
Lhamo Tseten immolated himself after having lunch with a group of friends. "He slowly left the room - says a witness - and, among screams of the crowd, ran down the street engulfed in flames." He cried out for the freedom of Tibet and the return of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, then fell to the ground and joined hands while continuing to scream. His body was removed by the crowd, with the Chinese police at a distance for fear of retaliation. Tsepak Kyab also set himself on fire shouting slogans and phrases against Beijing and for the release of Tibetan political prisoners, including the Panchen Lama (the second religious authority in Tibet, seized by China in 1995 when he was a child). His body was transported to his home for the funeral and prayers.
Commenting on yet another self-immolation Stephanie Brigden, director of Free Tibet, a group based in London, said that "China's policy in Tibet has been a complete failure." The activist appeals to the "future leader" of Beijing, to recognize that "that they must act on Tibetan demands for freedom." The group also reports that in the theater of the fires, the Chinese authorities have blocked internet and "a large number" of agents and security personnel have been deployed in the area to prevent further acts of extreme protest.
To curb the drama of monks and ordinary people setting themselves on fire, the Tibetan community in exile decided to meet in plenary session at the end of September, for the first time in four years, to propose a new policy that can help stop this series of suicides. Over 400 Tibetans from all over the world - elected delegates in the various communities of the diaspora - gathered in Dharamsala, the seat of government of the Dalai Lama since his exile from Lhasa. Instead of adopting a conciliatory policy, the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet has increased its level of repression. The monasteries of the region are under armoured police surveillance The Tibetan language is prohibited, the practice of religion is in fact prevented. The Party has even made self-immolation illegal "carrying a five years prison sentence." The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the community, has repeatedly said while he "understands" the motives for sacrifice, he calls on his followers to "stop wasting" their lives.