Self-Immolations Hit 90 Mark

Another Tibetan burns himself to death amid calls for multilateral action to pressure China.

Tibetan in India unveil a banner with images of those who self-immolated during a protest rally in Siliguri city, Nov. 28, 2012.

Another Tibetan burned himself to death in protest against Chinese rule on Friday, bringing the self-immolation toll to 90 so far with 28 occurring this month alone, triggering calls for multilateral action to pressure Beijing to ease the clampdown in Tibet.

The latest burning protest was by a 29-year-old Tibetan man and occurred in the Ngaba  (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province.  

Kunchok Kyap, who "doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire in protest against Chinese policies" was immediately whisked away by Chinese security forces, said India-based exile monk Kanyag Tsering.

"Not long after the self-immolation, the police arrived and took him away to Barkham (Ma'erkang) county. There is no information about his present condition. "

A native of the Upper Zaru nomadic area in Akyi township in Dzoege (Ruo'ergai) county, Kunchok Kyap self-immolated at a gas station located near Shakdom township in Ngaba.

Several Tibetan youths pursued the vehicle which took Kunchok Kyap away but they too have been missing, Kanyag Tsering said.

"The area is reported to be very tense and volatile," he said.

Chinese authorities have beefed up security and clamped down on the Internet and other communications in the areas where self-immolations have occurred, sources said.

Most of the self-immolation protests since February 2009 have been aimed at highlighting opposition to Chinese rule and seeking the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet after a failed national revolt against Chinese occupation in 1959.

The rise in the burning protests in recent weeks highlights the failure of Chinese authorities to address Tibetan grievances and required urgent international action, human rights and other groups have said.

'Political repression'

The Central Tibetan Administration, as the Tibetan government-in-exile in India is called, said the self-immolations underscore "political repression, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation" in Tibet.

Students for a Free Tibet, a global grassroots network of students and activists pushing for human rights and freedom in Tibet, on Friday issued an "urgent call for multilateral action on the Tibetan issue" as the number of self-immolation protests has "dramatically escalated."

Since Nov. 22, 11 Tibetans, including three teenagers, have self-immolated.

"The humanitarian disaster unfolding inside Tibet —where 28 of my people have been driven to light their bodies on fire in a single month —demands immediate and coordinated action by world governments," said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.

"Multilateral action is the only immediate way to pressure Beijing to end the repression that drives increasing numbers of Tibetans to give up their lives in these heartbreaking acts of protest."

"How many more Tibetans will die before the international community takes action?" asked Kate Woznow, International Director of Students for a Free Tibet.

"Chinese leaders are crushing the Tibetan people under their repressive policies while easily ignoring the weak protestations being raised by a handful of countries. At this point, the only thing that will grab Beijing's attention is a concerted, multilateral effort by the international community to meaningfully address the Tibetan issue," she said.

In August, U.S. Congressmen Frank Wolf and James McGovern wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggesting Washington host an international conference on Tibet, hold periodic public meetings such as a "contact group" on Tibet and discuss setting up a group of like-minded governments at the U.N. General Assembly.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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