Communications blackout imposed to contain news of Tibet protests while China’s new leader anointed

Thursday, 15 November 2012

As Xi Jinping was being appointed new leader of the Communist Party of China and named chairman of the party’s military commission, two Tibetans were reported to have set fire to themselves to protest China’s brutal occupation of their country. A 23-year-old woman, Tingzin Dolma (1), died after setting fire to herself at approximately midday (local time) by Goge Village temple in Rebkong County, Eastern Tibet (2). An 18-year-old Tibetan is reported to have set fire to themselves in Luchu, also in Rebkong County, at approximately 11am local time today. Further details could not immediately be confirmed due to severe restrictions on communications in Rebkong County, where the internet and international calls have been blocked for several days. Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said: “It may seem particularly important for China to banish any hint of instability during announcements of the new generation of leaders, hence the stringent efforts to block communications to and from Rebkong where six Tibetans have set fire to themselves and thousands have protested on the streets since the 18th Congress began last week. “World leaders must speak out for the Tibetans who are protesting for freedom in the face of all China’s might.” Ends Notes to Editors 1) Tingzin Dolma’s father is called Bulo, his mother is Tashi Dolma. Chinese: Tongren, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.. 2) Free Tibet press releases detailing recent protests: Full list of Tibetan self-immolations: Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected. For interviews and further information please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden: E: M: +44 7951 479 515 T: +44 207 324 4605