Personal testimonies behind self-immolations

14th May 2012

Messages provide insight into motivations for protest

Sonam (right) and Choephak Kyap set fire to themselves on 19 April in Barma Township in Ngaba County. The two cousins were in their early twenties.

In a voice recording that was found two days after their deaths, they explained their reasons for setting themselves on fire.

They said their actions were not for personal glory but for “freedom in Tibet, for the development of Buddhism, and so sentient beings can prosper, and for world peace”.

“Remain united as one”

Sonam and Choephak Kyap said that their decision to self-immolate didn’t mean they didn’t love their families or didn’t cherish their own lives. They mentioned the Chinese invasion and the suffering it has caused Tibetans.

“We, the Tibetan people, suffer without our human rights. The suffering Tibetan people experience due to the denial of our freedom is much greater than the suffering of setting my body on fire,” their statement said.

They called for Tibetans to remain loyal to Tibet.

“Diligently preserve your culture and do not lose your dignity. Remain united as one.”

Sonam and Choephak Kyap’s message is now being shared by Tibetans using mobile devices.

“Never forget you are Tibetan”

Another personal testimony has emerged of 18 year old Nangdrol (bottom right) who died setting himself on fire in the same town, two months previously. Nangdrol left a handwritten note (below).

“I wish for the nation of Tibet to be free from China,” he wrote. “Tibetans face extreme suffering under China's rule. It is very hard to withstand the suffering."

Nangdrol also made reference to the Chinese invasion. “Tibet was forcibly invaded by China and it is not possible to live under its evil rule.”

"Head raised high with national pride and courage" he would "give his life to fire."

He urged Tibetans to wear Tibetan dress and speak the Tibetan language. "Never forget you are Tibetan."

Information shared despite lockdown

Harrowing video footage of the self-immolation of Sonam and Choephak Kyap emerged earlier this week. Despite communication lockdowns and heavy military presence in Ngaba, these personal testimonies and footage have reached the outside world.

This demonstrates the great risks Tibetans are willing to take to show what is going on within their borders. International leaders must in return break their silence and stand up for Tibet.

More than 40 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire in protest at the repressive Chinese occupation of their country. See the full list.

Full translation and the voice recording is also available.

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