More Tibetans Self-Immolate to Protest Chinese Oppression

18 year old Tibetan, Dorjee, died after setting himself on fire yesterday. He joins the growing number of men and women who have self-immolated to protest Chinese oppression in Tibet, including two women over the weekend, Rinchen a mother of four, and Tsering Kyi.

Five women have self-immolated in the past five months, including three Buddhist nuns- Tenzin Wangmo, Palden Choetso, and Tenzin Choedron- to protest renewed vigor by China to suppress Tibetan cultural activities. Rinchen self-immolated before a Chinese guard house at the gate of Kirti Monastery, according to the Tibetan Women’s Association. Tibetan women share a long history standing alongside men and monks in protest.

Tenzin Wangmo, Palden Choetso, Tenzin Choedron

Self-immolation is a form of non-violent protest practiced by Tibetan protestors ever since the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1959.

Radio Free Asia reports:

“Experts warn that the protests by Tibetan women and especially Tibetan nuns, whose tradition of standing up to oppression dates back half a century, are expected to resonate with the people and throw the spotlight on the Tibetan plight.

“In the past 25 years, women have played a significant role in new forms of protest that have developed in Tibet, especially street protests,” said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University.

…Tibetan women made up about one-third of Tibetan protesters against Chinese authority between 1987 and 1996, a period of significant demonstrations in the region, Barnett said.

The protests by women never degenerate [into violence]. They are much more important to the creation of the idea that Tibetans are committed to nonviolence,” he said, expressing little surprise that Tibetan women had participated in the 26 self-immolations that began in February 2009 to protest Chinese rule.”

In February 2009, Tapey, a monk from the Kirti monastery, protested alone in front of the monastery then set himself on fire. Since then, 24 Tibetans have died in self-immolation. Several additional protestors attempting self-immolation have been arrested by the Chinese and their condition or whereabouts are unknown.

The Tibetan Women’s Association held a candlelight vigil Monday night to honor these women and show support for women resisting Chinese oppression in Tibet.

“TWA urges the Chinese government to address the genuine aspirations and demands of the 25 martyrs who burnt their bodies in the name of ‘freedom for Tibet’ and for the ‘return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.”

For the past year, China has increased its military presence in Tibet, sparking a resurgence of protest.

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