Tibet Immolation Toll Reaches 111 Amid “Self-Defeating” Policies

Dharamsala-based Phayul.com has reported two new self-immolation cases in Tibetan areas, including one by a mother of four:

Thirty-year-old Kal Kyi, a mother of four has set herself ablaze protesting near Jonang monastery in Zamthang in Eastern Tibet at 3:30 pm (local time).

“The local Tibetans carried her charred body inside the monastery premises to prevent it from falling into the hands of Chinese security personnel,’ said Tsangyang Gyatso, an exile Tibetan who has close contacts in the region.

Kal Kyi had died from injuries. Kyi is survived by her husband, Gyepo, and their four children.

Within 24 hours of Kal Kyi’s self-immolation in Zamthang, another Tibetan has set himself on fire today in an apparent protest against China’s continuing occupation of Tibet.

Forty-three-year old Lhamo Kyab set himself ablaze at Lushoe village in Tsoe region, Eastern Tibet. The self-immolation took place around 10 am (local time).

This is the fifth self-immolation protests in Tsoe since Sangay Gyatso set himself on fire on October 6 last year.

[…] Further detail about Kyab current status is not available at the time of filing this report.

The number of incidents within the P.R.C. now stands at 111, excluding two which may have been accidental. Chinese authorities claim that one recent case was actually a murder, whose alleged perpetrator tried to use self-immolation as a cover. Six more self-immolations have been carried out by Tibetans in India and Nepal.

At Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson argues that Beijing’s response—a policy of “surveillance and suppression” documented in a recent HRW reporthas proven “self-defeating”:

The Chinese government- – unlike many Chinese scholars – seems fundamentally unwilling or unable to acknowledge at any level that its policies toward ethnic minority regions have failed. Massive subsidies and infrastructure development, imposed without the key step of ensuring people’s support, have unsurprisingly not bought allegiance. Unprecedented relocations, particularly nomads, under the guises of environmental protection and providing better access to public services, have arguably deepened resentment in the region.

Beijing’s devotion to demonising the Dalai Lama accomplishes little other than further alienating Tibetans. Unilaterally imposing on Tibetans a model of life that Beijing wants – of an urbanised, monetised, secular, ‘modern’ society – is proving a losing strategy. Beijing’s imposition of the “grid” shows it intends to double-down rather than change course.

The willful refusal to see Tibetans as people who want to live a different way and have every right to do so – not as insurgents, criminals or separatists – is ultimately self-defeating. If Beijing wants to stop Tibetan ‘innocents’ from immolating, it must reverse course and loosen up – not batten down. Self-directed violence can dissipate if there is hope. Something Beijing is long overdue to deliver to Tibetans.

See more on the self-immolations, the resulting crackdown and the ensuing debate via CDT.