Huge media reaction to Tibet protests

21st November 2011

Free Tibet is playing a leading role in generating media coverage of the growing unrest in Tibet. Reports have appeared in the BBC, ITN, and numerous newspapers in recent days as a result of our work.

Most stories have focused on the 11 self-immolations this year with thought-provoking testimonies from friends.

Only means of protest

One young monk, who recently escaped to Dharamsala, told the UK Independent on Sunday:

“Outside, there are different ways to demonstrate but in Tibet this is the only option, the only choice, for protesting against the Chinese government.”

The 17-year-old knew five of those who have set themselves on fire. He was a close friend of Phuntsog, who was the first person to do so this year.

Public support

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said

“Images of Tibetans self-immolating makes for uncomfortable viewing but we have to remind ourselves what has driven people to take these actions and the risks others have taken by sharing them with the outside world.

“Our supporters know that these people have chosen this course of action due to China’s occupation and are driven to take positive action to free Tibet.”

Human rights concerns

The BBC contrasted the tentative response of western governments to the growing crisis in Tibet with their strong support for the Arab Spring.

Lobsang Sangay, Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Tibetan Government in Exile, has called on the West to speak out against repression. “Every statement counts, every statement indicates that these lives are not lost in vain.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she is “alarmed by recent incidents in Tibet of young people lighting themselves on fire in desperate acts of protest,” and reiterated the US’s “serious concerns about China's record on human rights.”
Dalai Lama response

The Dalai Lama highlighted the fact that many Tibetans have “sacrificed their lives” since the Chinese occupation began.

“Nobody knows how many people killed and tortured – I mean death through torture. Nobody knows.”