16-year-old schoolgirl killed in fatal protest becomes the eighth child to set themselves alight in Tibet

Monday, 10 December 2012

Wanchen Kyi self-immolated in Dokar Mo Township, Malho County, east Tibet around 8pm on the evening of 9 December (1). On holiday from the local middle school at the time of her protest, she shouted “Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama, long live Tibetan People” and leaves her parents and two sisters. An estimated three thousand local people attended her cremation service after she died in the protest.

News of the latest death comes as Free Tibet and Tibet Watch publish their comprehensive and damning submission to the United Nations committee charged with evaluating China’s record on respecting the rights of children. To mark Human Rights Day (today, 10 December), the two groups have released Growing up under China’s occupation: the plight of Tibet’s children documenting China’s frequent, systematic and severe violations of its commitments under international law (2,3). Eight Tibetans under 18 have taken part in self-immolation protests: four have been confirmed to have died, including Wanchen Kyi (4). The whereabouts of the others remain unknown.

Utilising eyewitness accounts and direct testimony from affected Tibetans, the joint report to the United Nations documents:

• Children beaten, shot, imprisoned and killed for standing up for their rights

• Children orphaned, threatened and assaulted because their families resist the occupation

• Children denied the right to learn their language and culture, and “educated” to be second-class citizens in their own country

• Children defying the authorities by demonstrating, sharing information, and even burning themselves to death

• How the Panchen Lama, kidnapped in 1995 by Chinese authorities at the age of six, became the world’s youngest political prisoner.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Bridgen says:

“Wanchen Kyi has become the latest fatality to arise from China’s occupation of Tibet, but young as she is, she is not the youngest. Children are shot, killed, tortured, abused, threatened and imprisoned in Tibet. They are also active and full participants in the struggle to resist China’s oppression. There can be no normal life for children in Tibet until the aspirations of its people are met.”


Notes for editors

(1) Wanchen Kyi’s protest occurred in Dokar Mo Township, Tsekog County (Ch: Zeku), Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Huangnan), Qinghai Province.

(2) See a two-page summary or the full report online, or contact Free Tibet for further information.

(3) China is a signatory to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews the compliance of Convention signatories with its requirements every five years. China’s compliance with its obligations will initially be considered in a working group next February, before formal review at a meeting currently expected in May.

(4) Of the eight Tibetans under 18 years of age confirmed as having set themselves on fire in protests, four are confirmed dead, including the youngest, Dorjee, aged 15 (picture available), in November 2012. See full list of self-immolators at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet

For further information and to arrange an interview with Free Tibet and Tibet Watch Director Stephanie Brigden, contact Alistair Currie:

E: alistair@freetibet.org
T: +44 207 324 4619