Videos smuggled out of Tibet

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

9 May 2012

Video footage and the personal testimonies (1) of Tibetans who set themselves on fire in protest at the Chinese occupation of Tibet have been smuggled out of Tibet.

A handwritten note expresses the “wish for the nation of Tibet to be free from China.”


The clips, which have been passed to the outside world despite great risks, show Sonam and Choephak Kyap, on fire (2) in front of Jonang Dzamthang monastery in Barma Township, Dzamthang County, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Eastern Tibet (3) on 19 April. Both died.

This is the latest in a series of images, video and recordings finding their way out of the country despite intensive Chinese security and communication lockdowns.

In the last month, scores of Tibetans have been arrested and charged for their role in the Tibet Spring, some for sharing information about protests.

The two cousins joined the ranks of more than 30 Tibetans who have now set themselves on fire since March last year in protest at China’s continued occupation of Tibet (4).


Sonam and Choephak Kyap left behind a recorded message which outlined the reasons behind their decision to self-immolate (5). The message said the two set themselves on fire for “freedom in Tibet and so Buddhism and sentient beings can prosper, and for world peace”.


The message is now being shared by Tibetans via mobile devices.


The recording also called on fellow Tibetans to “Love Tibet. Diligently preserve your culture and do not lose your dignity.” In the days following its discovery, villagers in Barma Township, inspired by this call, gathered outside the local monastery to pledge their solidarity.


A handwritten note from Nangdrol, a 19-year-old Tibetan who set himself on fire in the same town exactly two months before (6), was also smuggled out in the hope that those in the free world might get an understanding of what is driving some Tibetans to give their lives.



Nangdrol wrote of his “wish for the nation of Tibet to be free from China. Tibetans suffer extremely under China. It is very hard to forgive the suffering.”


Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

“The fact that this video footage and personal testimonies have made it out of Tibet once again underlines the lengths that many Tibetans are prepared to go to in order to demand their freedom from Chinese occupation. It is surely time for the leaders of the world to break their silence and speak up for Tibet.”



Notes to editors:

1. Free Tibet has a package of materials for media use including video, images, voice recording and translations of testimonies.

The videos can be viewed and shared:


Choephak Kyap

Photos of the men can be viewed and shared:

Please credit Free Tibet.


3. Chinese: Zhongrangtang Township, Rangtang County, Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan


5. Free Tibet has a copy of the recording along with an English translation


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 interviews and further information please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden:

M: +44 7971 479 515
T: +44 207 324 4605
S: stephaniefreetibet