Tibet's second self-immolation of 2013 shows repressive measures are not deterring protests

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Press release 19 January 2013

Tibet’s second self-immolation of 2013 shows repressive measures are not deterring protests

Dupchoek (age 28) set himself alight at an open-air basketball court in Drachen township, Kyongchu county, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture at 3.15pm local time, yesterday, Friday 18 January(1). Eyewitnesses report that he died at the scene and his body was taken by security forces. He leaves a wife, Rigpa, and two daughters aged 3 and 4. His protest is the 97th confirmed self-immolation in Tibet.

The self-immolation takes place in the context of arrests and detentions related to previous self-immolation protests. Free Tibet can confirm that eight people were arrested in Luchu County in December on charges relating to sharing information about a self-immolation in November (3), and five monks were detained in Bhora county in December in connection with a self-immolation on 2nd December (4). The whereabouts of all but two of the detainees are still unknown and their families have been denied access to them. Those arrested for involvement in protests are commonly denied proper legal representation and due process in Tibet, while the UN has confirmed that the use of torture is widespread and routine (5). Other detentions, including in Rebkong county, have been confirmed but further information cannot be provided at this point to protect sources.

In response to the intensity of self-immolation protests towards the end of 2012, Chinese authorities in Tibet introduced stringent measures in an attempt to end them. These include collective punishments for communities in which self-immolations take place, provisions to charge people accused of instigating fatal protests with murder, and large financial rewards for information regarding immolations.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Bridgen says:

“We are deeply concerned about all of those detained in December, who are at risk of torture and severe sentences. In response to the protests, the authorities’ have tried a combination of arrests, bribes, threats and propaganda, to no avail. Two self-immolations in less than a week show that Tibetans’ determination to regain their freedom remains as strong as ever. China must learn: repression doesn’t work. Only recognising the legitimate aspirations of the Tibetan people and respecting their human rights can end the protests.”


Notes for editors

(1) Chinese: Hongyan County, Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan

(2) See full list of self-immolators at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet

(3) The arrests relate to the self-immolation of Tsering Namgyal on 29 November and occurred in Luchu County, Kanhlo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Luqu County, Gannan TAP, Gansu Province). For further information, including names and photographs, contact Free Tibet.

(4) The arrests relate to the self-immolation of Sungdue Kyab in Bhora Township, Sangchu County, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Bola, Xiahe County, Gannan TAP, Gansu Province). For more information (including names of detainees) contact Free Tibet.

(5) Committee Against Torture, Dec 2008 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/CAT.C.CHN.CO.4.pdf

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

For further information or comment, contact campaigns and media officer Alistair Currie:

E: alistair@freetibet.org
T: +44 207 324 4619