Monk survives self-immolation protest in northern Tibet

Monday, 11 November 2013


In the first self-immolation protest in Tibet since September, 20 year old Buddhist monk Tsering Gyal, has set himself alight in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northeast Tibet (1).

His protest took place at approximately 5.30pm, local time (photos available, 2). Tsering Gyal, from Akyong Monastery, survived the protest but was severely injured.
Police attended the scene of his protest, extinguished the fire and took him to the local hospital in Pema County.

Around 200 local people and monks gathered at Tsering Gyal’s monastery and went to the hospital, where they demanded his release to ensure he was not mistreated by security forces.

Police prevented them from visiting him. Due to the seriousness of his condition, he was transferred to the main hospital at the province capital in Siling (Ch: Xining).

Family members are not normally given access to self-immolation survivors but as a result of the protest two family members have been permitted to accompany him.
At least 121 Tibetans have self-immolated since 2009, although such protests have become more infrequent in 2013. Only four (including Tsering Gyal) have taken place since May, this year (3).

The protest occurs as the Chinese Communist Party holds its annual closed-door plenum in Beijing.
In an interview in the Financial Times this weekend, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, expressed his views on the protests:
“The overall situation is so tense, so desperate, so they choose a very sad way … It is difficult to say, ‘You must live and face these unbearable difficulties.’ If I have some alternative to offer them, then I [can] say, ‘Don’t do that. Instead of shortening your life, please live long, and we can do this and this and that.’ But [I have] nothing – no alternative. Morally, very difficult. There is no other choice but to remain silent, and prayer.” (4)
Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:
“Tibetans have demonstrated their resistance to Chinese rule in recent months in many ways, including mass protests against exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources and attempts to force Tibetans to fly the Chinese flag on their homes.

These have been met with brutal violence but protests continue. While self-immolations have become more infrequent, it is clear that Tibetans continue to show their determination in opposing Chinese rule. It is time for Beijing to recognise that repression is a failed policy in Tibet, and time for world leaders to stop ignoring Tibet’s resistance. We strongly urge David Cameron to raise the issue of Tibet specifically and explicitly on his forthcoming state visit to China.”
For further information or comment, contact Alistair Currie:
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes for editors
1.    Location: Pema County ( Ch: Banma) of Golog (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.
4.    Financial Times 7 November 2013