Tibetan Evictee Self-Immolates

A Tibetan woman stands by the rubble of her destroyed home in Kyegudo county in Qinghai province, April 22, 2010.
AFP China Extra

A Tibetan woman has set herself on fire to protest the demolition of her home as Chinese authorities bulldozed around 1,000 houses rebuilt in an earthquake-hit region of China’s northwest Qinghai province, sources said.

The unidentified woman’s protest occurred last week when a wrecking crew arrived to destroy her house, a U.S.-based Tibetan told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday, citing sources in the region.

“Because of the eviction [of Tibetans] from their homes and the confiscation of people’s farmland, a Tibetan woman self-immolated about a week ago,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The fire was quickly put out by people who had gathered nearby, the source said, adding, “her condition was not life-threatening.”

Her burning raises to 115 the number of Tibetans who have burned themselves in protest against Chinese rule or policies in Tibetan-populated areas in China. Most of them have also called for the return of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.   

The burned woman was described as the daughter-in-law of a man named Ngodrub, a resident of the Sengdze suburb of Kyegudo in Qinghai’s Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

It was not immediately clear if Ngodrub’s residence was the one torn down amid anger over the forced demolition of homes.

Slow to rebuild

Amid reports of the woman's protest, an area resident and father of 10 named Gogey also threatened to set himself ablaze to protest the confiscation of his own land and has arranged for prayers to be read for him in local monasteries, an RFA source said.

Kyegudo was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 14, 2010, that largely destroyed the town and killed almost 3,000 area residents by official count.

Rebuilding in Kyegudo has progressed slowly and is scheduled for completion by July, RFA’s source said.

“[But] reconstruction has resulted in the eviction of Tibetans living in the Rishuggul area and behind the Yulshul Normal School,” sites that were empty or used as farmland before the earthquake struck, he said.

“Chinese security forces have bulldozed newly built Tibetan houses and tents on these sites, and have beaten and detained anyone resisting the demolition,” he said.

'A stark contrast'

Separately, an area resident confirmed the destruction of Tibetan homes, including many rebuilt by families on their own land and with their own resources.

“Now the Chinese are forcibly demolishing these houses, saying that their occupants are not officially registered to live in Jyekundo,” he said.

Government takeover of the properties began on Tuesday, he added.

"Around 1,000 Tibetan houses in Kyegudo have now been forcibly demolished, and many Tibetans could not even gather up their belongings before the houses were bulldozed," he said.

The source also pointed to a “stark contrast” in the quality of reconstructed housing built by the government for Chinese officials and that built for local Tibetans.

“The residences of the Chinese officials are more spacious and stable and of superior quality, while the other residences require renovation within one and a half years of being rebuilt.”

“Local Tibetans repeatedly complain about their shoddy construction,” he said.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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