Tibetan Self-Immolates, Others Arrested

Voice of America reports that yet another Tibetan has perished after self-immolating in Ngaba county, Sichuan province – a region with a majority population of ethnic Tibetans and long a hotbed for protest against Chinese rule:

A 27-year-old Tibetan man has died after setting himself on fire today in China protest. Tsering Dhondup self-immolated today around at 3.15pm local time in Drachen Yultso village, Chungchu township in Ngaba county (Chinese: Aba).

His father and many of his relatives are known to be working Chinese government officials.

Today’s incident brings the total number of self-immolations since 2009 to 97.  including 81 last year in protest against China’s strict control over Tibet’s Buddhist culture and a suffocating security presence in Tibetan regions.

This comes less than a week after a Tibetan man died after self-immolating in Gansu province. At The Guardian, Tania Branigan reports that seven Tibetan “abetters” have been detained for organizing and encouraging self-immolations, including one that occurred in Gansu in October:

Chinese police have detained seven people for helping persuade a Tibetan villager to set fire to himself, state media report. The move is the latest attempt by authorities to curb the spate of self-immolations in western China.

[...]The state news agency Xinhua said officers in Gansu province, north-west China, believed the fatal self-immolation in October of 26-year-old Sangye Gyatso, in Hezuo city, was “masterminded by key members of the Tibetan Youth Congress of the overseas Dalai clique”, according to a statement.

The officers allege a friend of Sangye Gyatso who had joined a monastery in India – where many Tibetans and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, live in exile – had introduced him to ideas about Tibetan independence when he made a trip home to China.

The trend of self-immolation in protest of Chinese policies have been consuming the lives of Tibetans since 2009, though the frequency of occurrences spiked in late 2011. A scholarly debate has emerged around the efficacy and religious orthodoxy of this method of dissent. Recently Wang Lixiong, husband of prominent Tibetan blogger Woeser, analyzed the last words of self-immolators in an attempt to uncover their motives.

Also see prior CDT coverage of Tibet protest and self-immolation.