Tibetan man dies in first self-immolation protest of 2014

Friday, 7 February 2014

Phakmo Samdup set himself alight in Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, eastern Tibet, on Wednesday 5 February.

In his late twenties, Phakmo Samdup (childhood name: Tamding Kyab) left two children (portrait photo available, 1). His protest took place near a school in Dokarmo township late on Wednesday evening, local time (2). He died at the scene and his body was taken by Chinese authorities. Communication in the region is now heavily restricted. The local authorities are warning people not to let news reach the outside world and are also spreading the allegation that the young man committed suicide for personal reasons.

Only six self-immolations have taken place since July 2013 (3). In 2013, China began inflicting punishments on communities and families of self-immolators and a number of Tibetans have been given severe sentences (including a suspended death sentence) for “inciting” individuals to undertake the protests (4).

Tibetan New Year (Losar) falls on 2 March this year, followed on 10 March by Tibetan Uprising Day, the anniversary of an abortive 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Both periods are times of tension in Tibet and China has already started deploying security forces in an attempt to prevent protests.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“While self-immolations have slowed significantly in recent months, Phakmo Samdup’s protest confirms that Tibetans remain willing to undertake this devastating form of peaceful protest. The last few months have seen mass protests against detentions, environmental destruction and the Chinese flag in Tibet. Tibetan opposition to Chinese occupation is undimmed but China’s response is a self-defeating turn of the screw. Repression breeds resistance. Further protests in Tibet in 2014 are certain: more self-immolation protests are certainly possible.”

Information provided by Tibet Watch.


For further information or comment, contact Alistair Currie:
E: alistair@freetibet.org

T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes for editors

1. Photographs available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157640627093843/.

2. Location: Dokarmo township, Tsekok County, Malho TAP (Chinese: Duo he mao, Zeku County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture), Qinghai Province

3. 124 self-immolations have been confirmed in Tibet with two further fire deaths thought to be protests but unconfirmed. Full list of confirmed protests at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet

4. Chinese media reports on sentencing of Tibetans for involvement in self-immolation protests:

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. www.freetibet.org