Two More Tibetans Self-Immolate in Rebkong

As China’s top leadership handover is underway in Beijing, two more young Tibetan men set themselves on fire this Monday in Tongren (Rebkong), Qinghai Province, bringing the total number to at least 72 since 2009. From Voice of America:

Citing sources in the area, Sonam, an exile Tibetan originally from Rebkong, told VOA that Nyingkar Tashi, 24, set fire to himself at about 3:15 PM local time, and that while engulfed in fire, Nyingkar Tashi had called for the long life of the Dalai Lama and for freedom in Tibet. Nyingkar Tashi left behind his wife, Drugmo Tsering, aged 23, and his father Tashi Namgyal. His mother, Khando Tso, passed away in 2008.

The second self-immolator is identified as Nyingchag Bum, 18, who carried out his protest at about 7:18 PM local time. According to Tenzin Rabgyye, another exile with ties to the area, Bum’s self-immolation was witnessed by hundreds of local people who then stayed at the spot to pray for the long life of the Dalai Lama.

[...] Rebkong County had witnessed a major demonstration on Friday, as Tibetan students and civilians took to the streets to demand language rights and the return of the Dalai Lama.

Saransh Sehgal at The Diplomat examines the ideological split among Tibetan groups and the Dalai Lama’s opinions on Sino-Tibetan relations:

[…] The violent nature of the act makes it controversial within the Tibetan community. For instance, even as the Dalai Lama has labeled the CCP’s Tibet policy “cultural genocide,” he continues to oppose all forms of violence on both sides.

[...] For his own part, the Dalai Lama suggested he is optimistic when he recalled Xi Jinping’s father during an interview with Reuters, describing the elder Xi as, “very friendly, comparatively more open-minded, very nice.” Additionally, Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, is a Buddhist herself and hosted the first World Buddhist Forum in China. The Dalai Lama went on to say he was “encouraged” by recent meetings he had with Chinese delegates who claimed they were close to senior Chinese officials.

[...] Still, many in the exile Tibetan community remain hopeful that Beijing could make changes under the new leadership. “These acts of self-immolations directly challenge the leaders in Beijing, telling them that they would rather die than live under such intolerable circumstance when the very survival of Tibetans is under threat. The Chinese policies are worse than the pain inflicted by self-immolation, it is time China take responsibility for this and urgently come forward to stop the situation from getting worse,” says Lobsang Wangyal, an exiled Tibetan entrepreneur living in India.

See also Dalai Lama Wants Probe into Self-Immolations via Al Jazeera.

For more perspectives on the act of self-immolation in Tibet, see a special issue of Cultural Anthropology on the topic (via CDT).

See also more on Tibetan self-immolations via CDT.

[This was originally posted on November 14, but was deleted due to a technical error. It was reposted November 15.]

November 15, 2012 6:52 PM
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