Today on March 12th 2013, we, the Tibetan Women’s Association, commemorate the 54th anniversary of National Tibetan Women’s Uprising Day. March 12, 1959 is a significant day in the history of Tibetan women, a date on which Tibetan women rose against the brutal crackdown of the Chinese government in the capital city of Lhasa.The Tibetan Women’s Association is an organization of Tibetan women from all three provinces of Tibet that constantly work together to mobilize and support for the Tibetan political struggle. It is also a non-govermental organization approved by the Central Tibetan Administration in Exile.
Today is the day on which thousands of Tibetan women peacefully resisted the Chinese forces in Lhasa. They delivered petitions to the embassies of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and to representatives of Muslim committees to notify them about the critical situation of Tibet, and to urge them to intervene in this serious matter. During this uprising, hundreds of Tibetan women lost their lives in the brutal crackdown, and many of them were arrested. We also cannot neglect to remember the massacre of the leaders of the arrested women. In 1966, at the time of the Cultural Revolution, these women were taken east of Sera Monastery and killed. A few of them were taken to places in Lhasa, and to Poo lingka, Nyimo and Shigatse to be murdered at the hands of Chinese authorities.
We remember and honor the great sacrifices that all these martyrs have made to preserve our culture, identity, and freedom. In their name, we vow that these hardships will not be had in vain. We continue to stand resolutely united in a firm commitment of utmost service to the cause of Tibet.
The Chinese occupation of Tibet began in 1949. As the situation became more tense, both religious leaders and the lay public requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama to take on the responsibility of becoming the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet. He then was only sixteen years old, but agreed to take on this role.
In 1950, His Holiness the Dalai Lama released all prisoners in Tibet, and announced his vision of changing the system of the Tibetan government into a democracy. In accordance with his proposal, in 1954 he established a committee to reform the tax collection system by giving concessions to destitute people in debt. He intended to reform the tax collection system further, but the Chinese government hindered the process in many ways. That same year China requested that His Holiness the Dalai Lama travel to China for discussion. After his return, the Chinese government continued to create problems for the Dalai Lama’s reforms, and the political situation became more and more heated. Finally, in 1959, he chose to flee into exile to India with thousands of Tibetans, preventing him from completing his planned revision of the Tibetan government.
The prosperity of the Tibetan exile community today testifies to the strong base His Holiness created. In exile, he immediately established schools for Tibetan children, and then built monasteries and settlements for all the Tibetan refugees. In 1960, he further improved the status of the exile government by creating a parliament of elected representatives. To assure there were women in this parliament, in 1963 His Holiness reserved two seats for female representatives. That same year he also made efforts to further preserve Tibetan identity and culture, and to continue the Tibetan struggle into the future. He promoted and adopted the constitution of the Tibetan administration in exile drafted by the Constitution Redrafting Committee. This constitution was adopted by the exile parliament in 1991.
The exile government established a judiciary in 1992, and the three pillars of democracy were formed. In 2001, after the election of Kalon Tripa, he announced his retirement from political leadership. The Tibetan people, unable to see the future of Tibet without His Holiness’s guidance, appealed to him to continue his leadership. His Holiness nevertheless refused, and enlightened the Tibetan people about the importance of democracy and having an elected head for the wellbeing of Tibet. In 2011, he fully retired from his position as temporal head and handed over power to the elected leader of the Tibetan people.
This establishment of a strong democratic system in the Central Tibetan Administration in Exile is one of His Holiness’s greatest achievements in the history of Tibet. The Tibetan Women’s Association would to like express our deepest and heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness, who took on the responsibility of guiding the whole of Tibet from the age of sixteen and has worked tirelessly for the cause of Tibet. Tibetans in exile are able to experience freedom and refuge under his grace and guidance. It is the commitment of all Tibetan women that we will continue to work in unified force and give our utmost service to the cause of Tibet.
Since 1949, Tibetans have suffered oppression under the brutal occupation by China. Repressive policies that lack morality, truth, and furthermore, human sensibility, have been in operation for more than sixty years. Such inhuman policy has continued to deteriorate Tibetan people’s fundamental rights, including freedom of religion, language and culture. It has strained the patience of Tibetans and incited greater resistance to act against this oppression.
Since 2009, this heart breaking self-immolation movement has comprised of Tibetans from all walks of life: monks and nuns, students, farmers, and nomads have sacrificed their precious human lives. Through this movement, Tibetans declare that freedom is an undeniable human right, and are also able to send strong messages to the Chinese government that Tibetans have never accepted the division of Tibet into various provinces.
Since 2009 to 25 February 2013, one hundred and seven people have self-immolated to protest against the occupation of China. Out of this number, fourteen are female: four nuns, two students, and eight mothers. Twelve of these women died in the protest and two are hospitalized. Ninety three men have self-immolated: seventy six were succumbed to death, and sadly, seventeen of them have fallen into the hands of Chinese authorities. In India and Nepal, six exiled Tibetans have set themselves on fire. Three of them lost their lives: Martyr Thupten Ngodup, Martyr Jamphel Yeshi, and Martyr Druptse.
We, the Tibetan Women’s Association, pay homage and respect to all the martyrs who sacrificed their precious lives for the cause of Tibet and its people. We pray for their rebirth again in this kingdom of religion with precious human life, and gather together to celebrate the victory of the Buddha of Compassion. We understand the grave loss the family members of the self-immolators must feel, and would like to them to know that we express our consolation and share in their grief.
Killings and torture, the separation of the Tibetan people from its spiritual and ethnic head by forbidding them to keep photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (as well as to express their reverence and faith in him), the denial of the freedom of religion, the deterioration of the Tibetan environment by mining, diverging the rivers, deforestation, force resettlement of nomads – all these repressive policies are the core cause of Tibetan self-immolations.
Since the causes of Tibetan suffering are policies initiated by the Chinese government, the United Nations and International committees must stand for the truth, and pressure Chinese leaders to stop these blatant human rights abuses. Today, China fails to have the strength to accept this truth, and instead blames His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration. This is an absolute invalid accusation that refuses to acknowledge the failure of their own policies.
The families and neighbors of self-immolators face imprisonment and detention. TWA continuously fights against unfair imprisonment by Chinese authorities, and distributes the reports of detention of innocent Tibetans across the globe. TWA would like to convey to a message to the Chinese government: the more Chinese authorities’ crackdown on Tibetans, the more resistance they will have to challenge. The ultimate power of the truth cannot be diminished or extinguished.
TWA strongly urges the General Secretary of United Nations and the United Nations high commissioner for Human Rights to operate a committee to do intensive research on the actual causes of self-Immolation. While urging all the Tibet Support groups, parliaments and all the governmental and non-governmental organizations to intensify their voices for the cause of Tibet, we also would like to note our heartfelt gratitude for their undying support and help.
The re-establishment of TWA is meant to fulfill the struggle for Tibet as initiated by the great heroines who lost their lives in resistance. It is also to raise the voices of Tibetan women and to assert our presence on various international platforms, including conferences on human rights and women’s rights. We also join together to speak up on Tibet’s environmental issues. TWA seizes every opportunity to appeal to and urge international bodies to intervene in our struggle, and to make the truth known to the world.
TWA will present a concrete report on the Status of Tibetan Women inside Tibet to the upcoming Universal Periodical Review in March. The report concentrates on the suffering of Tibetan women under the China’s birth control policies in Tibet. TWA has also written letters of appeal and petitions consisting of four significant points to the United Nations, the European Union, North Atlantic Treaty organization, and parliaments of various nations on the dire reasons behind the self-immolation cases.
On 12 March 2013, we are going to release a newly edited report on self-immolation, as well as four Tibetan books about the life stories and achievements of Tibetan women who have achieved milestones in history through their hard work and dedication. It is not that we do not have great women in Tibetan history, but it is very rare that we actually have written information about them. With the help of scholar Tashi Tsering from Amnye Machen Institute, TWA is publishing records of these important women. TashiTsering has done extensive research and translation of texts from Tibetan into Chinese and English, and TWA thanks him for many years of hard work.
Through our past experiences and observation, we have fond that is very important to have scholars, especially female students, who have done specialized studies.Thus from 2010 to 2012, TWA issued scholarships to five young women. This year, on the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan Women’s Uprising Day, in honor of those female self-immolators, we issue scholarships to female students who plan to do work either on gynecology or pediatric studies. If anyone who wants to know about this scholarship program, please see the TWA website. In our work to empower Tibetan women to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts in society, we hosted the Third Tibetan Women’s Advanced Leadership Training in December 2012.
As His Holiness clearly emphasized the importance of democracy and people’s voice in the government in his statements on 10 March in 1994 and 1995, TWA also organized a panel discussion and seminar to educate the masses on these issues, and we invited various scholars to discuss these topics.
During the 4th general meeting in March 1997, they debated and argued on a referendum proposed by His Holiness. TWA accepted the results of a public opinion poll of all four points: Independence, Middle path, Self-determination and Satyagraha. However, the final result was delayed. We finally decided to follow and support the strategy suggested by His Holiness, as his suggestion is a Middle Way that takes into account the situation of China, Tibet, and the whole world. This “fifth point” that was adopted during the 4th general meeting was accepted by the Tibetan Parliament on 19 March 1997. From this date on, TWA decided to follow the fifth point, and to support whatever policy His Holiness adopts.
Since in exile Tibetans are scattered all around the world, it is quite a challenge to preserve our culture and traditions. In fact we often fail to give attention to these important matters. People inside Tibet struggle to preserve the culture – even under the duress of occupation, they work harder than us to preserve our identity. It is the request of TWA to the older generation, and especially women, to educate children about the values that exist in our culture and promote the values of human compassion and the spirit of harmony cultures. We should emphasize speaking Tibetan, and learning the Tibetan language. We should learn from other nations about modernization, but remain true to our traditions.
TWA’s expansion is now represented by 56 regional chapters and 16,000 members across the globe, which stands for TWA’s commitment to “Advocacy for Home and Action in Exile.” Today, Tibetan women around the world pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We commemorate this day with the deepest of hopes for human rights, peace, and freedom in Tibet and the other regions of the world where peace is held hostage by brutal regimes.
With affirmation of our full faith in the leadership of His Holiness! Long Live His Holiness and May the Tibetan people be soon united in a Free Tibet!
TWA looks back at the aftermath and the undercurrents of the 53 years of Chinese rule in Tibet
On February 28, 2009, barely a year after the 2008 national protests in Tibet, a young monk from Kirti monastery, Tapey (20), staged a lone protest outside the monastery and then set himself alight. He was shot at by Chinese police. Two years hence his whereabouts remain unknown. His demands were threefold: “the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet” and “religious freedom inside Tibet” and “freedom for Tibetans inside Tibet”. His act of self-immolation not only surfaced the deep resentment of Tibetans under Chinese rule, but unearthed a new and heightened form of non-violent protest— self immolation. December 1 marked the 13th incident of self-immolation protest inside Tibet.
Heavy military clampdown in Tibet, particularly in Amdo Ngaba (Tibet) and Kham Tawu (eastern Tibet) which includes acute surveillance are the norm. The recently leaked 22-minute video of Chinese brutality in Tibet in the aftermath of the protests (filmed in 2008) evidenced the use of violence as well as cases of arbitrary arrests of innocent Tibetans in the wee hours of the morning. Monks and nuns are coerced into harsh ‘patriotic re-education’ programs.
China’s harsh and failed policies in Tibet, restricting freedoms and basic human rights, have intensified Tibetan grievances and exacerbated the resentment and desperation felt by people across Tibet.
Between February 2009 and the end of December 2011, Tibet witnessed 13 incidents of self-immolation. Seven of these incidents resulted in death and the whereabouts of six protesters remain unknown. The images and videos of these acts, particularly that of nun Palden Choetso and monk Phuntsok sent the international community into shock and fits of rage.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in October 2011, lamented the incidents as “very very sad” and remarked that “the leadership in Beijing should look into the ultimate cause of these tragic incidents. These Tibetans have faced tremendous desperate situation, otherwise nobody would commit such drastic acts.”
The exile based Tibetan Government blamed the ‘repressive Chinese policies’ for these desperate acts. Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay, said that China’s ruthless policies of “turning many parts of Tibet into a virtual state of martial law” following the popular 2008 uprisings has “driven the Tibetan people to a desperate situation”.
Exile Tibetans staged a flurry of integrated global actions under the banner ‘Enough: Global Intervention to Save Tibetan Lives.’
On November 2, on the eve of the G-20 summit in Cannes, protests and solidarity actions were organized in twenty cities across the globe.
The key demands made by the exile based Tibetan community and Tibet support groups were:
Demand to People’s Republic of China:
1. Immediately remove security personnel from the Ngaba and Kardze regions and from individual monasteries. All monks must be allowed to return unconditionally to their respective monasteries.
2. Release all those detained in connection to the 11 self-immolations since 16 March 2011. Account for the whereabouts and well-being of all who have self-immolated since February 2009.
3. Allow foreign diplomats and independent foreign media unfettered access to all Tibetan areas, especially the regions of Ngaba and Kardze.
4. Immediately suspend the implementation of religious and security policies in Ngaba.
Demands to the World Governments are:
1. In partnership with other concerned governments, insist that the People’s Republic of China accede to the above demands, including allowing diplomats and media access to Tibetan areas.
2. Make a strong public statement of concern about the situation in eastern Tibet.
3. Jointly démarche (officially reprimand) China concerning the situation in Ngaba, seeking a full accounting for the removal of monks from Kirti Monastery and their current whereabouts.
4. Urgently establish, with other concerned governments, an appropriate and effective multi-lateral mechanism through which future diplomatic actions for Tibet can be implemented.
Avaaz.org (a 10 million-person global campaign and movement working to ensure that the views and values of the world’s peoples shape key decisions), launched a global petition ‘Save Tibetan Lives’. This petition called on world leaders to urgently take coordinated action against the repression of Tibetans by China. As of December 10, about 700,000 people have signed the petition.
The International Tibet Network (a global campaign of more than 180 Tibet groups, dedicated to campaigning to restore the rights that Tibetans lost when China occupied Tibet sixty years ago) of which the Tibetan Women’s Association is a member, launched an online signature campaign: “Pledge: I will stand up for Tibet.” As of December 10, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, 40,000 people have signed the pledge. These signators include more than 70 prominent personalities from an array of fields such as – religious- Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Entertainment- Joanna Lumley (actress and activist); Nobel Laureates – Lech Walesa, Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire; and Politics – Tony Avella (State Senator, New York), Jack Lang (Member of French Parliament), Peter Stastny (Member of European Parliament).
In November on the eighth day of TWA’s ‘2nd Advanced Tibetan Women’s Leadership Training’, a day-long lobbying activity was organized in Delhi and the trainees secured four pledges: 3 members of the Indian parliament: Shri Peethambara Kurup, Shri Shariq Shrifuddin, Shri Palden Tsering, and Media baron Rajdeep Sardeai, co-owner and editor-in-chief of Indian IBN18.
TWA also recruited the Finnish Parliamentarian Elisabeth Naucler and Selina Robinson, City Councilor for Coquitlam, Province of British Colombia, Canada to sign the pledge.
I Will Stand Up for Tibet
Twelve Tibetans have set fire to themselves in eastern Tibet since March 2011; ten since 26 September. At least seven have died including two nuns. These unprecedented and truly desperate acts are a cry to the outside world for help.
Seven of these self-immolations are linked to Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, one of the largest and most influential monastic institutions in Tibet. China’s merciless and violent crackdown in Ngaba and throughout Tibet is intensifying Tibetan grievances and exacerbating the resentment and desperation felt across Tibet
This growing tragedy, if left unchecked, could spiral even further into a nation-wide crisis, unless the world acts now.
The international community, both citizens and governments, must Stand Up for Tibet. Global diplomatic intervention now will save Tibetan lives.
We demand a coordinated international response by world leaders to condemn China’s repressive measures in Ngaba and across Tibet, and to institute multi-lateral mechanisms to advocate for the Tibetan people. Most immediately, we call on China to withdraw its security forces from Ngaba and across Tibet now, and stop the ongoing harassment and torture of monks.
On August 15, as the news of monk Tsewang Norbu’s self immolation hit the exile community in Dharamsala, TWA, along with four other NGOs, organized a candle-light vigil. General Secretary Tseyang Oshoe, drafted the Tibetan press release. This press release went into circulation during the candle light vigil attended by hundreds of Tibetans who turned out despite the torrential rain.
On August 19, in the wake of Tseang Norbu’s self immolation and the augut-8 swearing in ceremony of Dr. Lobsang Sangye Aljazeera TV’s ‘The Stream’ broadcast a story on Tibet and featured Tenzin Dorjee (executive director of Student’s for a Free Tibet) and Dhardon Sharling (Research and Communications officer of Tibetan Women’s Association) as international spokespersons for the Tibet Movement. The 30-minute interview was aired live and watched by millions across the globe.
On September 26, when the news of the double self-immolations of Lobsang Kalsang (18) and Lobsang Konchuk (18), belonging to Kirti Monastery, reached Kirti Monastery in Dharamsala, Regional TWA and TYC organized a mass candle light vigil. TWA President Dolkar Lhamo Kirti was invited as the key speaker to address the grave issues and seek redresses for the dire situation in Tibet.
Following the October 3 and 7 self-immolation incidents of Kalsang Wangchuk (17) and Choephel (19), TWA, along with other NGOs, organized a candle light vigil at the TCV Day School in Mcleod on October 9th. The 56 regional chapters of TWA organized global candle light vigils and prayer ceremonies.
When the news of the self immolations of Norbu Dramdul (19) and nun Tenzin Wangmo (20) broke on October 15 and October 17 respectively, TWA’s president Dolkar Lhamo Kirti was the key speaker to address a gathering of thousands in Norbulingka.
TWA acquired the photo of nun Tenzin Wangmo’s charred body from Jonang Shangpo and made it available on its website for download purposes.
Following the October 25 self-immolation of Dawa Tsering (38)- and the November 3 incident of self immolation of nun Palden Choetso (35), TWA’s joint secretary, Tenzin Dolma addressed a November 4th gathering of two thousand people in Norbulingka.
On December 1, the Dharamsala chapter of RTWA and RTYC organized a candle light vigil to mark the 13th incident of self immolation in Tibet, that of Tenzin Phuntsok (46). TWA’s President Dolkar Lhamo Kirti presented the key note speech in Tibetan language at the Tsuglakhang temple.
TWA’s Press Release:
TWA released to the media a statement honoring the fiery sacrifices made by two Tibetan nuns
Today the Tibetan Women’s Association and its 56 chapters spread across the globe have organized and participated in global solidarity actions – peace rallies, candle light vigils, prayer services and fasting – in honor of the Tibetan martyrs who have sacrificed themselves by self-immolation, a powerful form of non-violent protest. The most recent was the October 17 case of Tenzin Wangmo (20), a nun from Dechen Choekorling Nunnery and the November 3 case of Palden Choetso (35) a nun from Geden Choeling Nunnery. Both of these women died as a result of their self-immolation protest.
Both Tenzin Wangmo and Palden Choetso shouted the slogans: “We want the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to Tibet,” and “We want religious freedom in Tibet.”
There has been a spate of fatal self-immolation in Tibet: Tenzin Wangmo’s is the fifth death and the tenth self-immolation case in Tibet. Palden Choetso’s is the sixth death and the twelfth case in Tibet.
52 years of Chinese subjugation of Tibet and the ramped up violent clampdown on Tibetans inside Tibet, in the aftermath of the 2008 peaceful protests inside Tibet, have aggravated the growing resentment and frustration of Tibetans. Out of sheer desperation they are resorting to desperate measures, such as taking one’s own life, to express their true aspirations: the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, freedom to practice their religion and a greater degree of freedom inside Tibet.
News has also emerged that on October 16, Chinese police fired gun-shots at seven Tibetans who protested in front of a police station in Kham Serta.
The Tibetan Women’s Association expresses its deepest concern for the catastrophic conditions in Tibet and the heightened suppression amidst an overwhelming presence of armed security personal in Tibet, particularly in Amdo Ngaba.
The TWA and its 16,000 members urge the Chinese government to withdraw their troops from Tibet and allow Tibetans to exercise their basic human rights: freedom of speech, movement and religious practice.
We call on China to withdraw their 52 years of failed policies in Tibet and instead heed the genuine aspirations of Tibetans inside Tibet. We call on China to engage in meaningful negotiations with the exile leadership to peacefully resolve the long -standing issue of Tibet. ***
Press Release: exile NGOs call for Global diplomatic intervention for Tibet.
On November 2, TWA’s general secretary Tseyang Oshoe represented TWA at the joint press conference organized by five major NGOs in exile.
Dharamsala, November 2: On the eve of the G20 Summit, Tibetans and their supporters joined a Global Day of Action to highlight a Campaign for Global Intervention, an urgent call to world leaders to exert multilateral pressure on Chinese President Hu Jintao to ease tensions in Tibet. In Dharamsala the 5 major Tibetan NGOs held a press conference, coordinated by International Tibet Network.
So far thousands of people worldwide have supported this new campaign to resolve the escalating crisis in Tibet, where ten young Tibetans have self-immolated since March 2011; if you have not already done so, please support us by signing and sharing these petitions: Stand up for Tibet and Avaaz – Save Tibetan lives.
“These unprecedented acts by Tibetans are the ultimate form of non-violent action and TYC recognizes these as valuable sacrifices,” said Tsewang Rigzin, President of Tibetan Youth Congress. “China’s merciless and violent crackdown is intensifying Tibetan grievances and exacerbating this crisis. So long as the occupation of Tibet persists so will the resistance against it by the Tibetan people.”
Statements of concern following the self-immolations in Tibet have been issued by a number of governments, such as the United States, Germany and also the European Parliament. Campaigners are calling for a more coordinated, multilateral approach, including a joint démarche and the urgent creation of an appropriate and effective multi-lateral mechanism through which future diplomatic measures concerning Tibet can be agreed. Lobbying efforts have won the support of parliamentarians around the world, see www.StandupforTibet.org.
“Today, in 60 cities around the world, Tibetans and supporters are saying Enough! Enough to China’s violent, military rule over Tibet, and Enough to world leaders for failing to hold Beijing accountable for its atrocities in Tibet. Inaction now will only lead to the tragic loss of countless more Tibetan lives, and we cannot stand by and let that happen,” said Dorjee Tseten, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet India.
“The government of the People’s Republic of China should immediately release all those detained since 16 March 2011 and account for the whereabouts of all those who have self-immolated since 2009,” said Lukar Jam, Vice President of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement for Tibet.
“This growing tragedy, if left unchecked, could spiral even further into a nation-wide crisis across Tibet, unless the world acts now. We are calling for global diplomatic intervention to save Tibetan lives,” said Kirti Dolkar Lhamo, President of Tibetan Women’s Association.
“We are calling for a global advocacy and grassroots campaign, to put pressure on our governments to take action for Tibet at this critical time,” said Chime Youngdung, President of the National Democratic Party of Tibet.
“Since 2009, 11 young Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in an unprecedented series of actions protesting Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet,” said Tsering Choedup, Asia Coordinator of the International Tibet Network, a global coalition of more than 180 Tibet Groups.
The harsh reaction of the Chinese government authorities to the 2008 protests across Tibet and the follow-on compulsory “patriotic reeducation” or “legal education” at Tibetan monasteries. Although protests in Tibet have been initiated and joined by all sectors of the society, including students, monks and nuns are frequent targets of repression given that religious practice connected to the Dalai Lama is viewed as subversive by the Chinese government. Elements of the security crackdown in Tibet that began as a reaction to the 2008 protests are ongoing with tightened control all around the country. ****end*****
Press Release: High Level Lobbying by TWA in the wake of self-immolation crisis in Tibet
TWA delegation stages ambush meeting with visiting Chinese leader Lu Hao
High-level lobbying with Indian leaders marks Global Day of Action to Save Tibetan Lives
New Delhi, November 3:In the light of the eleven unprecedented acts of self-immolation of young Tibetans in Tibet since 2009 (with the latest reports of a 12th incidence and the 6th case of self immolation death) and ensuing crackdown in Tibet, TWA’s delegation – comprising of president Dolkar Lhamo Kirti and Research and Media officer Dhardon Sharling – embarked on two days of face-to-face lobbying with Chinese and Indian leaders in India’s capital Delhi.
This morning, TWA’s president managed to instigate a brief meeting with Lu Hao, member of 17th Communist Party of China Central Committee, Member of the Tibet Work Leading Group and secretary of the CPC Gansu Provincial Committee. The southwestern corner of Gansu is home to a large Tibetan population of more than 400,000 and contains seven Tibetan counties including the autonomous county of Pari and the Kenlho Tibetan Autonomous prefecture.
Dhardon describes what occurred; “at 10:50 am, Dolkar staged an ambush encounter which interrupted a meeting between Lu and two other foreign diplomats at the lobby of Hotel Taj Mahal, while I hid behind a marble pillar witnessing the meeting and silently taking pictures from my phone camera.”
Within the two minutes Dolkar quickly briefed Lu Hao on the current self-immolation crisis in Tibet and requested that he heed to the demands of the petition titled ‘Tibetans call for Global Intervention to save Tibetan lives in Tibet.’
“After a formal mutual greeting ‘Nyi-Hao’ (meaning hello in Chinese) and offering of khathak (white scarf), Lu listened to me for a minute, after which Lu told me that he is in India for a different purpose (an exchange programme with the International Department of the Communist Party of China) and that he is not in a position to accept the petition and the scarf” said Dolkar.
“The awe and anxiousness on Lu’s face and in the gestures of the visiting Chinese delegates was palpable on seeing Dolkar dressed in Chupa, holding a khathak and a petition,” said Dhardon.
Both Dolkar and Dhardon were then frisked by the hotel security staff and asked to leave the hotel to enable Lu and his delegation to head to their meeting venue. TWA delegates later left the petition and the khathak in the hands of the Chinese Embassy staff present at the hotel, to be passed on to Lu.
According to Dolkar, “the petition included two appendixes: 1) Demands to the People’s Republic of China and from the G-20 leaders and 2) The factsheet of the 11 self-immolation cases in Tibet since 2009, and urged the Chinese leadership to end the repression in Tibet that has caused the self-immolations. It also earnestly requested Lu Hao to raise these demand to Hu Jintao and for the Chinese leadership to commence meaningful negotiations with the Tibetan Leadership in Exile during the lifetime of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in order to attempt to peacefully resolve the Tibet issue.”
Lu and his 12-member delegation left Beijing on October 29 for a good will visit to three countries on invitation of Indonesia’s Golkar Party, India’s Foreign Ministry and Pakistan People’s Party. Lu arrived in Delhi on November 2 and will leave for Agra on November 4 and then head to Pakistan.
During his India visit Lu stressed to the Indian government the “need of strengthening bilateral relations and furthering cultural exchange programme between the two countries.”
According to Dolkar, “while the year 2011 has been marked as India-China year of Exchange, ironically, the 15th round of border talks between India and China is scheduled to be held in Delhi this month and India took a decision this week to deploy 90,000 soldiers at the Indo-Chinese border.”
“We have made assertive explanations to the senior Indian leaders that ‘strong, bilateral Sino-India ties’ can be achieved only if the long-standing issue of Tibet is resolved and only when India bolsters its stand on Tibet and sheds its acquiescence to China,” said Dhardon.
On November 2, on the eve of the G-20 summit and coinciding with the global action – ‘Enough! Global Intervention Now to save Tibetan Lives’ – TWA’s delegation held meetings with senior leaders of the ruling Indian National Congress: Mani Shankar Aiyar, former union cabinet minister and current chairman of Congress party’s ‘political training department and the department of policy planning and coordination’ and Dr. Karan Singh, former ambassador to United States and UNESCO, and the present chairman of ‘foreign affairs department of Indian Government’.
Though an attempted meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi did not take place, a petition was delivered to Sonia through Dr. Karan Singh. A petition was also handed over to the Minister for Environment and Forests, Jayanti Natarajan at her office at CGO complex soon after she arrived from Beijing on November 3 morning.
An exclusive meeting with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj took place at her residence on November 3; as the leader of the opposition party, Sushma agreed to table the Tibet issue during the upcoming winter session of the parliament beginning November 22.
“We have urged the Indian leaders to push the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) led Government to raise the Tibet issue with the Chinese leadership at constant intervals and, importantly, to pressurize the Chinese Government to settle for meaningful negotiations with the Tibetan Leadership in Exile,” said Dolkar.
As an organization dedicated to the middle way approach which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet, TWA believes that beside high-level lobbying with governments in order to seek multilateral diplomatic intervention for Tibet, direct engagements with member of Chinese leadership are effective ways to attempt to address the crisis in Tibet and, significantly, to accomplish the aspirations of the Tibetan martyrs. *****end*******
Fact sheet of Self Immolation incidences inside Tibet since February 2009
Tenpa Dhargyal, 22, (left) and Chime Palden, 21, (below), monks from Gyalrong Tsodun Kirti Monastery, self-immolated on 30 March in Barkham County, Ngaba region. Status unknown.
The two monks set themselves on fire outside government buildings in Barkham while shouting slogans against China’s rule in Tibet. Monks from their monastery – Gyalrong Tsodun Kirti Monastery, 80km away – rushed to the scene in three vehicles, but were stopped on route by police who made them to turn back. Sources report that both monks were alive when they were taken to the hospital by security officers. Tenpa Dhargyal and Chime Palden both studied previously at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba. Their condition and whereabouts is unknown.
Lobsang Sherab, 20 year-old monk, self-immolated on 28 March in Cha township, Ngaba region. He died at the scene.
Lobsang Sherab was a monk from Ganden Tenpeling monastery in Rasuwa, Ngaba region (Amdo). Paramilitary police immediately removed his body, ignoring appeals from his family to be allowed to take the body. Lobsang Sherab had recently studied at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, only returning home two days before he died.
Sonam Dhargye, 43 year-old farmer, self-immolated on 17 March in Rebkong. He died at the scene.
Sonam Dhargye , a father-of-three, set himself on fire in Tongpo town, Rebkong. Following his protest, local Tibetans – both monastic and lay – gathered in large numbers to pay their respects.
Lobsang Tsultrim, 20 years old monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated in Ngaba on March 16, 2012. Status unknown.
Lobsang Tsultrim self-immolated at around 5 pm (Tibet Time) on 16 March 2012 while shouting protest slogans against the Chinese government.
Engulfed in flames, Lobsang walked up the main road of the town when he saw armed security officers coming towards him. He then turned back and ran down the road, according to sources. The security officers then knocked him to the ground. They extinguished the flames and threw him into a police vehicle. Even as security officers held him down, Lobsang raised his arms and continued to shout slogans, said sources. However, it is not immediately known what slogans he shouted.
Lobsang Tsultrim was the eldest of his parents’ (father Yeshe and mother Tsedron) four children. He was born in the Yeshe Tsang household at Soruma village in Choejema Township, Ngaba County. He became a monk at the age of 8 at Kirti Monastery and studied at the monastery’s ‘Buddhist Youth Academy’. After the closure of the academy in 2003, he joined the monastery’s Tantric college.
In the aftermath of the incident, armed police presence at the main gate of the monastery has been increased. Additional police checkpoints have been set up on all the roads leading to Ngaba County town, in an unusually heavy security presence, presumably aimed at preventing protests on the first anniversary of Phuntsok Jarutsang’s self-immolation protest in 2011.
Jamyang Palden, 34 years old monk, self-immolated in Rebkong on 14th March. It is reported that Jamyang’s medical condition is serious.
Jamyang Palden, around 34 years-old monk has self-immolated in protest at around 10.30 a.m (Tibet Time) at Rongbo Gonchen Monastery in Rebkong. There were not many Tibetans at the scene. The few prostrating nearby extinguished the fire on Jamyang with a help of carpet used for prostration. The local officials of the Religious Affairs and Public Security Bureau reached the spot and took burnt Jamyang to the local hospital, sources said.
After appealing to the local authorities to hand over Jamyang to the Tibetans, it is said that Jamyang was taken back to his monastery from the hospital. It is reported that Jamyang’s medical condition is serious. Jamyang Palden was born in Gyabo-Dhong-nye village in Rebkong.
Gyepe, 18 years old monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated in Ngaba on 10 March and he died at the scene.
Gyepe set himself on fire in protest against the Chinese government at around 5 pm (Tibet Time) in Ngaba. A group of army personnel took possession of Gyepe’s body. Sources say locals Tibetans requested the army personnel to hand-over the body to the deceased’s family. A day after Gyepe’s death, the Chinese army allowed five relatives of the deceased to take part in the cremation. Gyepe was cremated at around 10 pm (Tibet Time) on March 11. Gyepe was born to father Chakdor and mother Chaklo from Soru Division, Choejema Township, Ngaba County. His father died a few years ago. Gyepe became a monk at a young age. He has two brothers who are also monks. Source: TCHRD
Dorjee, 18 years-old, self-immolated in Ngaba County on 5 March. He died at the scene.
Dorjee, aged 18, set fire to himself at approximately 6.30pm near Chara Township, Ngaba County. Eyewitness reports state he set himself on fire near a bridge outside the township and then walk in flames to a government office building where he collapsed.
Rinchen, 32-year old widow and mother of four, self-immolated in Ngaba on 4 March. Died at the scene.
Rinchen, who was widowed last year, set fire to herself in front of the police station at the main gate into Kirti Monastery, calling out: “Tibet needs Freedom and the Dalai Lama needs to return to Tibet”. Local people took Rinchen’s body into the monastery. Rinchen is from a nomadic village and her children range in age from early teens to just a few months old.
Tsering Kyi, 19, a student in Machu County, self-immolated 3 March. Died at the scene.
Tsering Kyi, a young student from Machu County Tibetan Middle School, set herself on fire in Nyima Town, Machu County; she died at the scene. Eyewitness reported that, while in flames, she raised her hand above her head in a fist several times. It is also reported that Tsering Kyi had spoken about her serious concern for the situation in Tibet stating, “We should do something for Tibet – life is meaningless if we don’t do anything for Tibet.” The police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and closed off the immediate area with people unable to leave for some hours. Her body was removed by Chinese police and taken to the local police station.
Nangdrol, 18 year-old lay person, self-immolated in Dzamthang, Ngaba on 19 February. He died at the scene.
Nangdrol, a young layman (initially believed to be a monk from Samdrup Norbu Ling Monastery), set fire to himself in Dzamthang, Ngaba and died at the scene. Nangdrol is reported to have shouted slogans before he died including “May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live 10,000 years!” and “Freedom for Tibet!”. Following his death, Chinese police authorities attempted to remove his body, but monks from the monastery refused to hand him over and reports have been received of many hundreds of Tibetans gathering in Dzamthang to keep watch over his body.
Dhamchoe Sangpo, 38 year-old monk, self-immolates in Themchen, Amdo on 17 February. Died shortly afterwards.
Dhamchoe Sangpo set light to himself near the grounds of his monastery, Bongthak Ewam Tare Shedrup Dhargey Ling. It is reported that he died shortly after the immolation. Dhamchoe was a teacher at the monastic school and a member of the Democratic Managment Committee; a government controlled body used to control the monasteries. Security at the monastery was tightened in January 2012 after protests against a patriotic re-education programme had been staged. Dhamchoe’s self-immolation is the third protest of this kind to have happened in the Chinese province of Qinghai.
Lobsang Gyatso, 19, monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated in Ngaba on 13 February. Status unknown.
Lobsang Gyatso set light to himself at around 2pm in Ngaba town, shouting slogans. He was immediately surrounded, the flames extinguished and removed from the scene. Two other youths near the scene were reportedly beaten; one escaped but the other was taken away. Lobsang Gyatso’s current whereabouts and condition are not known.
Tenzin Choedron, 18, self-immolated near Ngaba on 11 February. Died shortly afterwards.
A nun from Dechen Chokorling, Tenzin Choedron set light to herself near the nunnery at 6pm, while shouting slogans of protest against the Chinese government. Sources reported that soldiers and police came immediately and took her away, towards Barkham. China’s State News Agency Xinhua confirmed that she died soon afterwards. Soldiers surrounded the nunnery and sealed it off. Tenzin Choedron was from the same nunnery as Tenzin Wangmo, who self-immolated and died in October 2011.
Sonam Rabyang, 35, a monk, self-immolated in Tridu on 9 February. Status unknown.
Sonam Rabyang was a monk from Yuthung village, Lab township, Tridu County, Yulshul in Kyegudo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province (Kham). He was at Lab monastery, and set fire to himsef in Tridu town. It is thought that he survived, but it is not clear.
Rinzin Dorjee, 19, a former monk from Kirti Monastery, self-immolated on 8 February in Ngaba. Died on 21 February in Barkham hospital.
On 8 February at around 18:30 Rinzin Dorjee (also known as Rikpe) self-immolated at No. 2 Primary School in Ngaba town. Shortly after the incident, security personnel arrived, doused the flames, and reportedly took Rikpe to Ngaba County hospital and later to a hospital in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang), capital of Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.
Lobsang Jamyang, 21, self-immolated on 14 January. Died 14 or 16 January.
On 14 January Lobsang Jamyang, a lay Tibetan, set light to himself in Ngaba. Police extinguished the flames and beat him. Tibetan eye witnesses became distressed and a spontaneous protest took place in which a large crowd tried to retrieve the dying man. More police arrived and opened fire. At least two people were shot. Details of those who were shot, remain unclear.
Golog Lama Sopa (Sonam Wangyal), 42, monk; self immolated on 8 January 2012. Died at the scene.
On 8 January 2012 Lama Sopa, a highly respected monk, set himself on fire and died in front of the police station of Darlag (in Chinese, Dari) county in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Before he set himself ablaze he distributed leaflets in which he wrote that he was performing the deadly act “not for his personal glory but for Tibet and the happiness of Tibetans”. He explained that he believed “Tibetans should not lose their determination. The day of happiness will come for sure. For the Dalai Lama to live long, the Tibetans should not lose track of their path”. He is believed to be the most senior monk to have self-immolated so far. His death prompted a gathering of several hundred Tibetans who forced the police to hand over his body.
Tennyi and Tsultrim, both around 20, a monk and former monk; self immolated on 6 January 2012. Both died.
According to information from Tibetan exile sources, Tsultrim and Tennyi, both around 20 years of age, set themselves on fire in the courtyard of a hotel in the center of Ngaba town and ran into the street shouting “His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return to Tibet” and “May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live for 10,000 years!” Tennyi, who is believed to be a monk from Kirti monastery, died on 6 January and Tsultrim, a lay person who may have been a former Kirti monk, died on 7 January.
Tenzin Phuntsog, 46, former monk; self immolated on 1 December 2011. Died on 6 December.
Tenzin Phuntsog self immolated in Chamdo on 1 December and was hospitalized with serious injuries. It is believed that the former monk was from a monastery in Chamdo township named as Karma monastery, which some sources say was under lockdown following a rumored bomb blast at a local government building on 26 October. He died on 6 December.
Palden Choetso, 35, nun; self immolated on 3 November. Died on 3 November.
On 3 November 2011 in Tawu, Kardze, 35 year-old Palden Choetso of Geden Choeling Nunnery self-immolated, making her the second nun to do so in Tibet’s history. She reportedly shouted “Tibetans will reunite soon,” “long life for His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” and called for basic human rights in Tibet. She died at the scene and her body was taken to Nyitso Monastery – the monastery of Tsewang Norbu, the monk who self-immolated and died on 15 August 2011.
This video describes the self-immolation in detail: http://youtu.be/KLKhZeEicgE
Dawa Tsering, 38, monk, Kardze monastery; 25 October 2011. Whereabouts unclear.
Dawa Tsering self-immolated during a religious ritual dance within the walls of Kardze monastery in eastern Tibet on 25 October. While engulfed in flames, he shouted for the return of the Dalai Lama, as well as for freedom and equality in the region. Sources have reported that Dawa Tsering is being cared for by monks in Kardze monastery having declined hospital treatment but his whereabouts cannot be absolutely confirmed.
Tenzin Wangmo, 20, nun, Ngaba; 17 October 2011. Died at the scene.
20-year-old Tenzin Wangmo, a nun at Dechen Chokorling near Ngaba town, called for religious freedom in Tibet and the return on the Dalai Lama as she set herself on fire outside of the nunnery. She died at the scene after less than 10 minutes. Sources have reported militarization intensified at Dechen Chokorling nunnery and the surrounding areas. She is the first woman to self-immolate in the history of Tibet.
Norbu Dramdul, 19, former monk, Ngaba; 15 October 2011. Reports indicate he died on 5 January 2012.
On 15 October, former Kirti monk Norbu Dramdul set himself alight in the central market of Ngaba town. The 19-year-old shouted “freedom for Tibet,” and publicly called for the return of the Dalai Lama. Eyewitnesses reported he was chased down by police while still on fire. Police extinguished the flames, beat him, and took Norbu away in a police vehicle.
Choephel, 19, and Khaying, 18, former monks, Ngaba; 7 October 2011. Both died.
On the morning of 7 October, two former monks from Kirti monastery, Choephel, age 19, and Khaying, age 18, held their hands in supplicatory gestures and shouted protests against Chinese rule before setting themselves on fire on a main street in Ngaba town. Choephel died on 11 October.
Khaying died on 8 October.
On the morning of 7 October, two former monks from Kirti monastery, Choephel, age 19, and Khaying, age 18, held their hands in supplicatory gestures and shouted protests against Chinese rule before setting themselves on fire on a main street in Ngaba town.
Kalsang Wangchuk, 17, monk, Ngaba; 3 October 2011. Whereabouts unknown
Kalsang Wangchuk, a 17-year-old monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, set himself alight on 3 October near the vegetable market in Ngaba town. He reportedly held a photograph of the Dalai Lama and shouted, “there are no religious rights and freedom in Tibet”. The police extinguished the fire and took Kalsang Wangchuk away. His well-being and whereabouts are currently unknown.
Lobsang Kalsang, 18, and Lobsang Konchok, 18, monks, Ngaba; 26 September 2011. Current whereabouts unknown
Two young monks of Kirti monastery, Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok, set fire to themselves on 26 September. The two 18-year-old monks waved the Tibetan flag, which is banned in Tibet, and called for religious freedom. They shouted “long live the Dalai Lama” before they self-immolated.
Both these young monks are relatives of Phuntsok Jarutsang, who was the first monk to have self-immolated in 2011 (see below). The well-being and whereabouts of the two young monks are currently unknown.
Tsewang Norbu, 29, monk, Kardze; 15 August 2011. He died at the scene
On 15 August 2011, a 29-year-old monk from Nyitso monastery named Tsewang Norbu set himself on fire in the center of Tawu (Ch: Daofu), Kardze (Ch: Garzi) in eastern Tibet (Ch: Sichuan Province). Tsewang Norbu drank petrol, doused himself with it, and then lit himself on fire. Eyewitnesses heard him shout, “we Tibetan people want freedom,” “long live the Dalai Lama,” and “let the Dalai Lama return to Tibet”. Tsewang Norbu died at the scene.
Phuntsok Jarutsang, 20, monk, Ngaba; 16 March 2011. He died on 17 March
Tibetan sources reported that on 16 March 2011, a 20-year-old Tibetan monk from Kirti Monastery named Phuntsok Jarutsang self-immolated in an act of protest in Ngaba town (Ch: Aba), eastern Tibet (Ch: Sichuan Province). He called for the return of the Dalai Lama, and eyewitnesses reported that Chinese authorities beat Phuntsok as they put out the flames. Phuntsok died at approximately 3:00am local time on 17 March.
Six monks, including Phuntsok’s brother and uncle, were sentenced in connection with Phuntsok’s self-immolation.
Of the eleven who have self-immolated since March 2011, six have died – Phuntsok Jarustang, Tsewang Norbu, Choephel, Khayang, Tenzin Wangmo and Palden Choetso. The current well-being and whereabouts of the other five – Lobsang Kelsang, Lobsang Kunchok, Kalsang Wangchuk, Norbu Dramdul and Dawa Tsering – are unknown.
Tapey, 20s, monk, Ngaba; 27 February 2009. His current whereabouts and status are unknown.
On 27 February 2009, Tapey walked to the crossroads near the market in Ngaba town and set fire to himself. He was shouting slogans and holding a home-made Tibetan flag which contained a photograph of the Dalai Lama. He was shot by People’s Armed Police (PAP) and fell to the ground, when PAP doused the flames and took him away. His current well-being and whereabouts are unknown.
Source: www.standupfortibet.org (supported by International Tibet Network)
Acknowledgements from Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar and Sonia Gandhi