STUDENTS FOR A FREE TIBET
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2012
Contact: Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director +1 707 838-3677
Kate Woznow, International Director, +1 917 300-9491
TIBET SELF-IMMOLATIONS PASS TRAGIC MILESTONE OF 50
Groups Demand Global Diplomatic Intervention to End China’s Failed Policies
New York – Students for a Free Tibet has pledged to intensify global action in response to today’s news that two more Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in Chinese-occupied Tibet, bringing the number of confirmed self-immolations since 2009 to 51 (1). Lobsang Kelsang, 18, a monk from Kirti Monastery, and Damchoe, 17, are reported to have self-immolated on the morning of August 27 in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Ch: Aba, Sichuan Province). Both are reported to have died (2).
“The Chinese government has driven more than 50 Tibetans to burn themselves in protest. Beijing has the power to change its policies, withdraw its troops, and end the self-immolations overnight, but instead it continues to exacerbate the Tibetan people’s suffering and grievances,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “We call on world governments to immediately establish strong, public, multilateral mechanisms to hold Beijing accountable for its atrocities in Tibet (3).”
Self-immolation as a political act against Chinese rule has emerged as the most direct and drastic form of protest in Tibet. A staggering 48 self-immolations have taken place in the past 12 months; at least seven in August 2012 alone. At least 40 of these protestors have died. Chinese authorities have responded with violent force, sometimes even beating Tibetans while they are still on fire (4) and overseeing a massive security clampdown in areas where the self-immolations have occurred, including in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
“Our political representatives have an opportunity and a serious responsibility to discuss a robust international diplomatic response to the Tibet crisis at the upcoming sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations General Assembly next month,” said Kate Woznow, International Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “China has blocked an international response to the crisis in Syria while overseeing a campaign of terror in Tibet. The global community cannot stand by while Beijing enables massacres in Syria and commits atrocities in Tibet. Governments must go beyond statements of concern and begin taking concrete, tangible action through a multilateral forum.”
In spite of China’s military clampdown there have also been significant protests in recent weeks in Ngaba, eastern Tibet following the self-immolations of two Tibetans on August 13 (5). On August 14, a mass demonstration took place in Rebkong, Amdo (Ch: Tongren, Qinghai), with several hundred Tibetans gathering outside the police station to protest the unprovoked beating of four Tibetans by intoxicated police officers the previous day (6).
“We will echo the surge of protests in Tibet with protests outside Chinese embassies and consulates around the world to help Tibetans realize their dream of freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet,” said Tenzin Dolkar, Students for a Free Tibet’s Deputy Director.
Students for a Free Tibet members in several continents are planning urgent response protests this Wednesday, August 29th and will be joining a Global Day of Action on September 5th to urge Foreign Ministries to take joint action for Tibet during the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly meetings in September. Calls for more public and visible multi-lateral action on the situation in Tibet received a significant boost in August with a letter from US Congressmen Frank Wolf and James McGovern to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, suggesting the US government host an international conference on Tibet, hold periodic public meetings such as a “contact group” on Tibet and discuss setting up a group of like-minded governments at the UN General Assembly (7).
1. For a comprehensive list of all confirmed self-immolations in Tibet, see www.StandupforTibet.org/learn-more. There have also been five instances of self-immolation among exiled Tibetans.
2. Details of the self-immolations on August 27, 2012 were provided by exiled Kirti monks.
3. SFT’s demands targeting the People’s Republic of China:
i. Immediately remove security personnel from Tibetan regions and from individual monasteries and suspend the implementation of religious and security policies in Tibet.
ii. Release all those detained in connection to the self-immolations and account for the whereabouts and well-being of all those who have self-immolated since February 2009.
iii. Allow foreign diplomats and independent foreign media unfettered access to all Tibetan areas.
iv. Address the Tibetan peoples’ legitimate grievances and respond to their demands for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
World governments must:
i. In partnership with other concerned governments, insist that the People’s Republic of China accede to the above demands, including allowing diplomats and media access to Tibetan areas.
ii. Urgently establish, with other concerned governments, an appropriate and effective multi-lateral mechanism through which future diplomatic measures concerning Tibet can be agreed upon and implemented.
iii. Express their concern about the situation in Tibet both publicly and in robust terms directly to Chinese leaders at all opportunities.
4. See http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/vivid-new-footage-shows-young-tibetan-being-beaten-police-while-fire
5. See http://www.tchrd.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=265:indiscriminate-beatings-detentions-mark-two-more-self-immolations-in-ngaba&catid=70:2012-news&Itemid=162
6. See http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/tibetans-rebkong-gather-protest-police-brutality
7. Read the full letter at: https://www.studentsforafreetibet.org/news/us-congressmen-calls-for-more-action-on-tibet