First Tibet self-immolation in 2018; Comes ahead of key anniversaries

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

A Tibetan man named Tsekho has died after carrying out a self-immolation protest in Meruma Township in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet (1).

He set himself ablaze around 5pm (China Standard Time) today to challenge Chinese rule of his homeland, Tibet.

A local source described Tsekho, who was in his forties, as a strong and optimistic character with great interest in the Tibetan cause.

While Tsekho’s death has been confirmed, currently the whereabouts of his body is unknown.  He is survived by his elderly father, his wife and two daughters. 

Tsekho's protest occurred in the run up to the anniversary of the March 10th 1959 Tibetan Uprising Day – one of the most significant dates of the year for Tibetans.

This is the first reported self-immolation protest of 2018; the last case occurred in December 2017 and involved a man called Kunbey who also lived in Meruma Township. At the time a video (2) of Kunbey setting himself alight near Kirti monastery was circulating on social media.

Since 2009, over 150 Tibetans have set themselves on fire (3) in protest against Chinese military occupation which has been in force since 1950, as well as human rights abuses and restrictions on Tibet’s religious and cultural freedoms. Most previous self-immolations have been fatal.

Free Tibet's director, Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, said:

"As Tibetans around the world prepare to commemorate the 59th anniversary of the national uprising in 1959, another protester inside Tibet has given his life to protest the ongoing Chinese occupation. There have now been over 150 Tibetan lives lost in the attempt to make their voices heard. 

Chinese authorities are quick to complain about its ‘hurt feelings’ whenever anyone mentions Tibet or human rights. Yet Tibetans suffer far more tangible pain on a daily basis.  Every time a politician or a company defers to one of China’s melodramatic objections, they are telling the world that they believe a Tibetan life is worth less than the Chinese government’s feelings.  We cannot just stand by and condone this callous indifference."


For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet Campaigns and Communications Manager John Jones:
T:+44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes to editors

(1) Meruma Township, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) County, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province