News and Views on Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn the death of self immolator Tsewang Norbu

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Tibetans in Dharamshala mourn the death of Tsewang Norbu who self immolated in front of the Potala palace in Tibet on February 25, 2022 (Phayul photo/Tenzin Leckphel)

By Tenzin Dharpo

DHARAMSHALA, Mar. 7: Tibetans in Dharamshala, considered the de-facto capital of the exile Tibetan setup mourned the death of the latest self immolator in Tibet who reportedly died after he shouted slogans and burned himself in front of the Potala palace in Lhasa city on February 25.

Five prominent Tibetan NGOs led the procession participated by many local Tibetans across the main square of McLeod Ganj town carrying candles and portraits of Tsewang Norbu, 25, who reportedly died after he was taken away by Chinese police following his attempt to self immolate in front of the Potala palace last month.

Multiple sources including news outlet reported the incident; Radio Free Asia confirmed that the Tibetan youth has died citing an anonymous source. Additional information of where, how and the exact time of Norbu’s death cannot be ascertained at the moment due to heightened clampdown on flow of information from Tibet.

Tsewang Norbu, a well known contemporary singer and composer is considered to be among the new crop of artists from inside Tibet. He has produced many hit singles including Tsampa, Dress Up and Except You among others.

Well known Tibetan contemporary singer and composer Tsewang Norbu has reportedly died after he burned himself infront of the Potala palace in Lhasa city on February 25, 2022 (Photo/Facebook)

Norbu’s self-immolation is the latest case since 2019 and the first in Lhasa since 2012. Since 2009, at least 158 Tibetans have self-immolated inside Tibet, majority of them fatal, in an apparent protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet. Majority of the demands by self immolators evident by their slogans called for the freedom of Tibet and the return of exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

The incident comes days before the anniversary of the March 10th ‘Tibetan Uprising day’ that is observed annually to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan uprising in Lhasa city against the invading forces of China in Tibet. The violent crackdown by Chinese army resulted in the death of over 85,000 Tibetans according to records of the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration.

Tsewang Norbu’s protest was the first reported self-immolation since 2019 and the first in Lhasa since 2012. Since 2009, at least 158 Tibetans have carried out self-immolation protests inside Tibet, the vast majority of them fatal.

3 Responses

  1. Thank you for your eloquent reminder of the destruction and soul destroying perpetrated on innocent people by brutal tyrannical governments who have no legitimate claim to the lands they occupy.

  2. The death of Tsewang Norbu is a stark reminder to all of us of the grim political reality in Tibet. No nation has produced so many martyrs. Tibet has had 158 so far and it will only increase in the coming years as communist China obliterates the Tibetan nation and its people. The people who have self-immolated are Tibetans who see no hope for Tibet under the boot heel of communist China. It’s the cry of desperation and abject disgust against Chinese communist occupation.

    The CTA’s policy has clearly failed. We were made to believe that if we are compliant to the CCP, which means no criticism of CCP policies in Tibet, no demand for independence and cut all connections to western supporters, then the CCP will oblige to talk and settle the issue of Tibet!!! One of the anti-Rangzen leader during 2000-2010 even announced that “China has a legitimacy problem in Tibet”. If the CCP talks to us, “we will help to legitimise the Chinese rule in Tibet”. He also made clear that the “Tibet issue was an internal affair of China” and that “the exile Government has no dealings with western nations”.
    Anybody who didn’t subscribe to this policy were ostracised. In this dictatorial atmosphere many patriots were disillusioned and disappeared from the political scene.
    The evocative མི་མང་ལངས་གླུ་was banned. However, since 2009, one hundred and fifty eight men/women, monks/nuns, both young and old have burnt themselves upon their own funeral pyre screaming for the independence of Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. The reason why the Tibetans inside are taking such drastic action is because of the sheer barbarity of the Chinese communist regime. Absolutely nothing has changed and has in fact got worse. The repeat of the infamous cultural revolution like destruction of gigantic Buddhas and manis in Drago in recent times and forced to witness the destruction demonstrate, the policy of appeasement has failed miserably. It has neither helped to ameliorate Chinese oppression nor it helped to advance Tibet’s cause on the international stage. It has only diminished the International limelight Tibet enjoyed and with it the repression and suppression in Tibet only increased. However, just like the Chinese communists believe their own propaganda, many Tibetans in exile still believe their own propaganda and refuses to accept the truth!
    The CCP has criminalised self-immolation and even if some one helps to douse the leaping flames or merely take a photo of the victim on fire can incur 15 to 20 years in jail!!! These are regarded as state secrets! The victims on fire are beaten with nail studded batons and if they survive, they are not given treatment but made to suffer. All family members including children are imprisoned and severely punished by torturing them physically and mentally. Owing to the policy of appeasement, the international community has also lost its interest in Tibet. They must have felt betrayed! After all the Tibetan leadership turned a cold shoulder after the year 2000 saying, “Jawaharlal Nehru had said, we have to deal directly with China”! It was an excuse to get serious with the CCP and turn our backs on the international community! This was the second deception and false hope after the debacle of the so called 1951 “17 point treaty” with communist China.
    Communist China has violently invaded Tibet just Iike Russia is invading Ukraine today. For the last 70 odd years, it’s mission has been to obliterate the nation of Tibet to be forcibly absorbed into China!
    This is the reason all the martyrs are sacrificing themselves to save our nation, our people, our religion and identity.

    We shed our tears for our martyrs and remember their sacrifice for our nation and take upon ourselves the responsibility of freeing our nation and people from the brutal occupation by communist China.

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