Protests continue as Tibetan man sets himself alight
49-year-old Namlha Tsering set himself alight opposite the county cinema hall in Sangchu County, eastern Tibet (1) at 6pm local time, today, 17 February. Eyewitnesses report that he was severely burned and was taken away by security forces who subsequently stated that he had died.
Namlha Tsering (also known as Hoba) leaves a wife and four sons, the oldest of whom is a monk. Photographs of his protest show him sitting cross-legged in flames in the carriageway of the main road (2).
His protest is the seventh confirmed in 2013 (3), and occurs in the context of a crackdown by Chinese security forces specifically intended intended to curb this form of protest. Recent weeks have seen a wave of arbitrary detentions and severe sentences for Tibetans accused of involvement in self-immolation protests. In January a monk called Lobsang Kunchok was given a suspended death sentence for “intentional homicide” after allegedly inciting eight such protests (4), and eight other individuals have been given lengthy sentences in jail so far this year (5).
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden says:
“During November when the Chinese leadership transition took place, self-immolation protests were an almost daily occurrence. Since then, China has introduced a slew of new repressive measures in an attempt to stop them. It is now clear that there are still Tibetans willing to undertake this most extreme form of protest and just as importantly, other Tibetans willing to risk the wrath of the state by reporting their actions to the outside world. Sadly, despite more than 100 such protests having now taken place, the leaders of the free world have yet to hold China to account for either the conditions which drive people to this act, or for the state’s punitive response.”
(1) Location: Sangchu County, Kanhlo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Chinese: Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.
(2) See http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/8485499210/in/photostream (warning: graphic photo). Other photos available from Free Tibet show security forces at the site of his protests.
(3) Six within Tibet and one in Nepal. See full list of self-immolators inside Tibet at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet
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