Exile news site Phayul reports the tenth self-immolation in Tongren (Rebkong) this month, bringing the overall total since 2009 to 79. The Dharamshala-based site also claims that Chinese officials have been ordered to deter further protests by punishing family members.
In confirmed reports received by Phayul, Lubum Gyal, 18, set himself ablaze in Dowa town of Rebkong, eastern Tibet at around 4:20 pm (local time) in an apparent protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency also reported on the incident, confirming that the self-immolator (Libong Tsering) succumbed to his injuries.
“Lubum Gyal set himself on fire in protest against the Chinese government in Dowa town,” Sonam, an exile Tibetan with close contacts in the region told Phayul. “Soon, a large number of Tibetans gathered and rescued his body from falling into the hands of Chinese authorities.”
[…] The Chinese officials were reportedly implementing the five-point notification issued by the Malho Prefectural office and Malho People’s government on November 14 giving stern orders to local officials “to punish self-immolators and their families; even those who had offered condolences and prayers to the bereaved family members and relatives.”
CNN reported more broadly on the self-immolations on Thursday. The network’s Paul Armstrong suggested that the difficulty of verifying news of the protests with journalists and independent monitors barred from the region has suppressed the level of media coverage abroad:
When a downtrodden Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in protest after his vegetable cart was confiscated by officials, this desperate act of self-sacrifice was seen as a catalyst for a revolution that became known as the Arab Spring.
Contrast this with China, where almost 80 people — men and women — have self-immolated since 2009 in protest against Beijing’s poor treatment of Tibet, according to rights groups.
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