Tibetans, Police Clash After Two More Self-Immolations

Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday that police in Sichuan province’s Aba county beat a Tibetan to death while trying to clear the site of two more self-immolations that took place Monday:

Lungtok, a monk from the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba, and another Tibetan, believed to be a layperson and identified as Tashi, torched themselves at around 6:00 p.m. local time to highlight their opposition to Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas, a Tibetan source in the area told RFA.

“A large contingent of police and armed PSB [Public Security Bureau] personnel arrived at the site of the self-immolation and imposed stern restrictions in the area,” the source said.

“The local Tibetans gathered in the area clashed with police and the situation became very tense. One Tibetan died from being beaten by the police.”

A woman who answered the phone at the Aba police department denied that any immolations or clashes between police and Tibetans had taken place, according to The Associated Press. Forty-eight Tibetans have self-immolated since March 2011, according to The New York Times, and many of the incidents have taken place near the Kirti monastery in Aba as Tibetans in the region have grown tired of Chinese rule.

Elsewhere, in Qinghai province, Radio Free Asia reported that nearly 500 Tibetans protested in the streets on Tuesday after they claimed that police attached a car of traveling Tibetans on Monday night:

Witnesses to the Monday assault described the Chinese police who attacked the Tibetans as “drunk,” local sources told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“On Aug. 13, local police, who appeared to be drunk, stopped four Tibetans traveling in their vehicle and harshly questioned them,” sources said.

“The harassment reached a point where the police and the Tibetans clashed, and the Tibetans were severely beaten.”

Several months ago, state-run CCTV produced a documentary blaming the Dalai Lama for inciting the string of self-immolations in the region. Woeser, a prominent Tibetan writer placed under house arrest in Beijing in March as tensions rose ahead of China’s National People’s Congress, discussed the documentary in a post on her blog in June. From the blog High Peaks Pure Earth, which translated Woeser’s post:

Up to the present day, CCTV has not broadcast the documentary to audiences within China. We all remember how CCTV, after the protests that erupted across the whole of Tibet in 2008, was quick to make a documentary called “Records of the Lhasa Riots” that was ceremoniously released during prime time and broadcast over and over again; it even became available on DVD. The result of the large-scale marketing campaign is best described by the words of a retired cadre who used to be engaged in ethnic matters: “the rifts between two ethnic groups that could have still been mended have been torn apart, what is done cannot be undone.”

So, why did the authorities decide to, this time, only broadcast the documentary to audiences abroad and not to people within China? Is it only to prevent Han Chinese, the majority of all Chinese people, to learn any more about the current situation in Tibet and risk that they start doubting the claims by the authorities that “Today, Tibetans are experiencing development and happiness as never before in history”? This is probably one reason, but the more important reason is that they are afraid of provoking the several millions of Tibetans living in Tibet and with them also the much-feared Uyghurs and Mongolians. This documentary only talks about 13 Tibetan self-immolators, but some of the video recordings and images shown here are revealed to the public for the very first time and display the great courage of the Tibetan self-immolators; on top of that, the various kinds of explanations offered by CCTV are full of ridiculous loopholes.