A young Tibetan living in China’s Gansu province stabbed himself to death and wrote a call for Tibetan freedom in his own blood while the ruling Chinese Communist Party met last month in Bejing to endorse the country’s new leaders, Tibetan sources said on Monday.
News of the protest and suicide was delayed because of tight restrictions on communications from the area during the once-in-a-decade national leadership transition, sources said.
“Last month, when the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was going on in Beijing, a Tibetan named Jigme Tseten, 30, a resident of Tsoe county, stabbed himself to death,” a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Before dying, he wrote in his own blood on a wall of the Upper Khagya School that ‘Tibet is independent, and the Dalai Lama should return to Tibet,’” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Following Tseten’s protest, local government officials “rushed to erase his writings on the school walls,” the source said.
Tsoe (in Chinese, Hezuo) county in Gansu’s Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture had recently been the scene of self-immolations by Tibetans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The number of the fiery protests, which have spread throughout Tibetan regions since February 2009, has now risen to 92, with the most recent occurring in neighboring Qinghai province’s Pema (Banma) county on Monday.
Separately, a second area resident confirmed the incident, saying that local officials had tried to cover up Jigme Tseten’s protest.
“Local government officials tried to hush up the incident by saying that Jigme Tseten had been drunk when he stabbed himself and died,” the source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.
Tseten came from the Chunak nomadic group, located a half mile from the Upper Khagya local government center, and is survived by his mother, wife, and two children, he said.
“His father passed away some time back.”
“During the 18th CCP Meeting, government officials were posted in the area to watch the Tibetans,” the source said, adding, “At present, Tibetan areas in the Kanlho Prefecture are under strict Chinese surveillance.”
“Tibetans who talk about the self-immolations on their mobile phones or send photos from their phones are being questioned, and many are being detained,” he said.
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karme Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.