Tibetan self-immolation protest revealed after five years of censorship

Protests in Driru
Protests in Driru
18th January 2021

Shurmo’s self-immolation protest in Driru County came to light last week after being censored by CCP officials.

 

On 17 September 2015 at around 1pm, a young Tibetan named Shurmo set himself on fire in Shagchukha village in Driru County. According to a report by the Central Tibetan Administration, he was immediately arrested by the police and taken to the hospital. He passed away on the same day because of his injuries.

The 26-year-old man was protesting against China’s repressive policies in Tibet. He was one of at least 157 Tibetans who have carried out self-immolation protests across Tibet since 2009 with the aim of protesting against Chinese rule and to alert the world about the Chinese government’s repressive policies against Tibetan people.

Shurmo’s self-immolation took place against a backdrop of intensified protest in Driru County, which is located in Nagchu in the Tibetan province of Kham. In June 2014, the local Chinese authorities in Driru County issued a comprehensive set of regulations outlining restrictions on travel, freedom of speech and religion. Tibetans’ expression about their culture,  religion and language has since then been heavily monitored and censored. 

Due to strict control over Tibetans’ phone and online communication, news of Tibetan protests and arrests is often delayed, sometimes for years, from reaching outside contacts. Shurmo’s self-immolation protest clearly reveals that despite a number of eyewitnesses, the Chinese government ensured that information about the incident did not reach the outside world. Three of Shurmo’s relatives were arrested but there is no information whether they are still detained, sentenced, or released. 

Last December, we reported on the imprisonment of Lhundrup Drakpa, a Tibetan musician, in Driru County. Lhundrup Drakpa was sentenced to six years in prison l for criticising the repressive policies being carried out in Driru. in his song entitled “Black Hat”.

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