Protester calls for freedom in Tibet, sets himself on fire

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Photo and video evidence shows a Tibetan self-immolation protest on a busy street

A Tibetan carried out a self-immolation protest today in the main city of Machu County in Kanlho, eastern Tibet (1). The protest took place at around 5pm local time.

Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch is working to verify further details of the case.  

Images and video footage (2) show the protester, an unidentified male, walking while his body is burning. Onlookers have confirmed that while he was walking he shouted slogans calling for the freedom of Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet (3).

The man eventually collapses to the pavement where a crowd gathers around the body to say prayers for him. A woman who is seen walking towards the burning body can be heard in one of the videos reciting prayers (4).

A video which appears to be taken later shows security personnel lifting and removing the body.

It has not been possible to identify the self-immolator or confirm further details at present.

This is the first self-immolation in Tibet since Sonam Tso, a mother of five, died after setting herself on fire in March this year. Over 140 Tibetans have carried out self-immolation protests in Tibet since 2009. The majority of these protests have been fatal (5).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“Self-immolation protests in Tibet emerge from the repressive and invasive occupation to which Tibetans are subjected. Behind each self-immolation there is a name, a person and a story. There are many reasons that drive individual Tibetans to make the ultimate sacrifice but the responsibility for each death lies with China. 

“These protests will only end when China addresses the grievances of the Tibetan people. For this to happen, other governments, whether they consider themselves China’s friends or trading partners, must speak out against the flagrant abuse of human rights in Tibet. The world cannot continue to look away from the daily horror that is the occupation.”

Information supplied to Free Tibet by Tibet Watch.



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Notes to editors

  1. Photographs and video available at  (warning: graphic content).
  2. Location: Machu (Ch: Maqu) County in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.
  3. The Dalai Lama was exiled from Tibet in 1959 after an attempted Tibetan uprising against the Chinese occupation. He led the Tibetan government-in-exile for many years but has since passed his political authority to democratic institutions. Tibetan protesters regularly call for him to be allowed to return to Tibet.
  4. The woman is saying "Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso Khyenno" (May His Holiness the Dalai Lama Bless Him).
  5. The first self-immolation in Tibet took place in 2009. There were no further self-immolations until March 2011, with the peak number of self-immolations (83 confirmed cases) taking place in 2012. For a full list of self-immolation protesters see: