Call for joint action by world governments to urgently address China’s crackdown in Tibet; urges people of conscience to join mass rallies to show support for Tibet.
24 January 2013
In the new year of 2013, the confirmed number of self-immolations by Tibetans living under Chinese rule reached 100 (1).
“With profound grief, …the number of Tibetans who have set themselves on fire to protest against repression in Tibet is now reaching 100. In 2012 alone, 83 Tibetans self-immolated, and twenty-eight of these occurred within the single month of November.” said Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay. “All those self-immolating in Tibet have called for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama.” (Watch Sikyong’s Video Message) (2)
Lobsang Namgyal, a 37-year old Tibetan monk from Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, became the 100th self-immolation protester living under China’s rule when he set light to himself near the Dzoge Public Security Bureau on 3 February; he died at the scene (3). Due to the security clampdown in Tibet, this news only reached exiled Kirti monks on 13 February, the same day that a young monk set light to himself in Nepal. The monk, who has not been named and whose status is unknown, staged his protest near Kathmandu’s Boudhanath stupa on the third day of Losar (Tibetan New Year) and on the 100th anniversary of a proclamation by the 13th Dalai Lama, reasserting Tibet’s independent status (4).
As a member group of the International Tibet Network, (5) United Nations For a Free Tibet stands in together, and express our collective and profound concern at the worsening situation inside Tibet. As Tibetans continue set themselves on fire to protest against the intense repression under China’s rule, the authorities are responding with an even greater crackdown, thereby increasing the chances that more Tibetans will self-immolate.
“This staggering figure of 100 individual self-immolation protests must bring the world to its senses. This milestone demands widespread condemnation of China’s failed policies and of its brutal crackdown in Tibet”, said Brigitte Tibet von Bulow, Executive Director of United Nations For a Free Tibet. “Each one of these incidents is a personal tragedy, but the combined total of 100 people setting light to themselves in protest warrants an international response. We urgently call on to issue a joint statement of concern on this tragic occasion and to collectively formulate a diplomatic initiative that will directly address China’s leaders over the crisis they have created in Tibet” (6).
China continues to escalate its response to the self-immolations with an aggressive strategy to stop information reaching the outside world. On 31 January, a court in Sichuan found two Tibetans guilty of “intentional homicide” and passed a death sentence, suspended for two years, to Lobsang Konchok (40), and sentenced his nephew Lobsang Tsering (31) to 10 years in prison. According to Xinhua the men had confessed to “recording details of the protesters, gathered photographs and passed them on to exile groups in India”. (7). News of arrests and harsh sentencings of Tibetans who have shared information about the self-immolations is becoming increasingly frequent. On 15 January Xinhua announced the detention of seven Tibetans in Gansu for “organizing” a self-immolation, claiming they were members of the ‘Dalai-clique Tibetan Youth Congress’, a claim vehemently denied by Tsewang Rigzin, President of TYC (8). Meanwhile, exiled Kirti monks have reported that four monks in Ngaba, Amdo (Ch; Aba, Sichuan) have received sentences of between 2 and 10 years linked to three self-immolations (9).
Although the escalation in China’s response prompted a flurry of statements of international concern during November and December, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union and the governments of Canada, the UK and USA (10), the Tibet movement is calling for more visible coordinated action by world governments.
“To our brothers and sisters in Tibet, we are with you every step of the way. The three principles of unity, innovation and self-reliance will guide us towards our goal of seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to Tibet and restoring freedom for Tibetans.” said Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
We urge all people of conscience to join one of the following major rallies:
Europe: 10 March, European-wide rally in Brussels, hosted by Tibetan Communities, NGOs and European Chithues. Meet 11.30
Globe: 100th Anniversary of Tibets Declaration of Independence
Global stand with Tibet campaign Marking the 54th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day
1. For a comprehensive list of all confirmed self-immolations in Tibet, see www.StandupforTibet.org/learn-more. The list includes 62-year old Passang Lhamo who on 13 September 2012, set light to herself in Beijing in protest against land-grabbing in Kyegudo. There have also been five instances of self-immolation among exiled Tibetans.
3. This self-immolation on 3 February was reported on 13 February by the monks of Kirti monastery in exile in Dharamsala, India. See their report in Tibetan at http://www.tibettimes.net/news.php?showfooter=1&id=7314 with an image of Lobsang Namgyal.
4. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/world/asia/tibetan-monk-immolates-himself-in-nepal.html. For information about the centenary, see http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/marked-02122013154150.html
5. The International Tibet Network is a global coalition of Tibet-related non-governmental organisations. Its purpose is to maximise the effectiveness of the worldwide Tibet movement, which campaigns for an end to human rights violations in Tibet and to restore the Tibetan people’s right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and Cultural status. See www.tibetnetwork.org.
6. We call on concerned governments to urgently establish and participate in a multi-lateral Contact Group or mulitlateral forum through which future diplomatic measures concerning Tibet can be agreed and implemented.
7. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21271854. See also ‘Those Who Incite Self-Immolations Must be Severely Punished Under the Law’, Gannan Daily, 3 December 2012. http://gn.gansudaily.com.cn/system/2012/12/03/013508017.shtml. Translation into English by Dui Hua, http://www.duihuahrjournal.org/2012/12/china-outlines-criminal-punishments-for.html.
8. Tsewang Rigzin, President of Tibetan Youth Congress said TYC would never encourage anyone to self-immolate, and that the Chinese authorities were trying to deflect blame from their policies. See report by International Campaign for Tibet http://savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/chinese-state-media-blame-dalai-clique-and-announce-detentions-aggressive-security-drive-a
9. See Radio Free Asia http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/burning-01222013130828.html
10. For an up-to-date list of international statements of concern seehttp://standupfortibet.org/governments-for-tibet/.
We call on Xi Jinping and 5th generation leaders to adopt a paradigm shift in the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to Tibet that gives full agency over formulating future policies to the Tibetan people, by first acknowledging its failures and the illegitimacy of its military rule over Tibet. Xi Jinping must commit to a just and lasting resolution that recognizes the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination under international law.
In connection with the self-immolations, the Network calls on China to:
• Stop the use of military force to crackdown on the Tibetan people. As a matter of urgency, withdraw all security forces from monasteries and places where protests have taken place.
• Release all political prisoners detained for engaging in peaceful protest, arbitrarily detained or sentenced without a just trial in accordance with international law immediately and unconditionally.
• Allow immediate and unfettered access to Tibet by foreign media, diplomats, international observers and foreign tourists.
• Cease the harsh and systematic repression of religious and cultural life in Tibet, and suspend with immediate effect the Chinese government’s patriotic education programme.
• Remove all Party cadres from monasteries in Tibet with immediate effect, and suspend policies concerning interference by Chinese authorities in the selection of reincarnate lamas.
• Ensure the Tibetan people’s right to practice and promote their language is respected by restoring the Tibetan language as the primary medium of instruction in schools and universities.
• Halt all economic and development policies detrimental to safeguarding the prospects and livelihood of the Tibetans. Reduce the dependency of the Tibetan economy on Chinese government subsidies by favouring bottom-up, sustainable development models that offer opportunities to disadvantaged Tibetans and cease all financial incentives for Chinese settlement onto the plateau.
• End and reverse the coercive policy of nomad settlement; suspend all ongoing settlements and allow those nomads already settled to return to their land and way of life if they wish, and their cancelled long term land leases restored. Allow the Tibetans to be full partners in all decisions over land use in Tibet.
Recommendations to world governments:
• Establish and participate in a Contact Group or multilateral forum by world governments to devise and implement new, more robust, coordinated strategies for resolving the Tibet crisis.
• Urgently seek to send diplomats to affected areas and demand from China assurances that foreign journalists be allowed unfettered access to the TAR and Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan.
• Vigorously pursue actions in appropriate international forums that will focus the attention of the government of the PRC on the severity of the situation in Tibet and on the legitimate concern of the international community that Tibetans enjoy the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants to which China is a party.
• Expand capacity to monitor the situation in Tibet, including continuing to push for greater access to Tibet. Initiate or elevate efforts to establish a diplomatic presence in Lhasa, and expand existing resources within Beijing embassies for monitoring.
• Utilize all opportunities to raise bilateral concern about Tibet in the context of China’s Leadership handover, emphasizing the failure of security, economic and development policies to achieve stability in Tibet and urge the immediate adoption of measures to address the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people.
The United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT) works to raise awareness about the gross human rights violations committed against Tibetans in their homeland by the Communist Chinese Army and Police. Our mission is to educate the public and advocate for an end to the oppression and atrocities brought by the brutal Communist Chinese occupation over the last 60 years. With over 50,000 members and supporters spread across the globe, we are a strong ally of Tibet. UNFFT is registered in the United States as a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.