Elderly Tibetan women mourns self-immolations in Tibet

TWA mourns the self immolation deaths of two female protesters this past weekend

Elderly Tibetan women mourns self-immolations in Tibet
March 5: Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolations in Tibet

Dharamsala, March 5: The Tibetan Women’s Association and its global network of regional chapters organized a candle light vigil this evening to mourn and express sublime solidarity with the deaths of two Tibetan women over the weekend: Rinchen (33), and Tsering Kyi (19), in Amdo, eastern Tibet. Yesterday- Richen, a widowed mother of 4 children from Ngaba, died after setting herself alight in front of a Chinese police surveillance station at the main gate of the Kirti monastery and calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet. On Saturday, March 3, Tsering Kyi, a student from the Tibetan middle School in Machu, set herself ablaze at the vegetable market in Tro Kho Menma Shang village in Machu.

View the photographs of today’s candle light march in Dharamsala, India at the bottom of this post or on Flickr and Facebook.

Dolkar Kyab, a native of Machu and member of exile based Tibetan Parliament said that there is tightened security and communications blackout in Machu where every Tibetan household is being checked and the Tibetan middle school is under strict surveillance.

The subsequent incidences mark the first self-immolation by lay women in Tibet’s history. On October 17, 2011 nun Tenzin Wangmo (20) from Dechen Chokorling near Ngaba town called for religious freedom in Tibet and the return on the Dalai Lama as she set herself on fire and died outside of the nunnery. On November 3, 2011, in Tawu, Kardze, 35-year-old Palden Choetso of Gaden Choeling Nunnery died after she self-immolated and shouted “Tibetans will reunite soon” and “long life for His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” and called for basic human rights in Tibet. On February 11 of this year, a nun from Dechen Chokorling, Tenzin Choedron (18), died after setting light to herself near the nunnery while shouting slogans of protest against the Chinese government.

A Tibetan nun in exile mourning the deaths in Tibet
March 5: A Tibetan nun in exile mourning the deaths in Tibet

Since Tapey’s self immolation on February 27, 2009, 24 additional self-immolations have been carried out. TWA mourns the death of 18 martyrs who died in self-immolation protests and continues to express grave concern regarding the conditions of the 7 martyrs whose status either persists unknown or involves hospitalization and the denial of family visitation rights.

TWA remains grossly worried over the fact that since last year, Tibet has remained under lockdown with a heavy military presence. We fear for those living under the constant threat of arbitrary detentions, disappearances, and the ruthless military control of Tibetan areas.

The two self-immolations took place on the eve of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) parliamentary meeting commencing today, where Tibetan unrest is expected to reach the debate table. 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’.

TWA requests global intervention to save Tibetan lives: we ask world governments to apply multilateral pressure and take action against China to end the crackdown and allow free press inside Tibet. We call on the honorable Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to visit the troubled areas in Tibet and assess the situation with a fact-finding mission.

TWA sends a message to Tibetans and supporters to commemorate the upcoming 53rd anniversary of the National Tibetan Women’s Uprising on March 12 and partake in TWA global actions on the day, honoring female martyrdom and lending a voice to the growing female resistance in Tibet against Chinese oppression. TWA believes that the steadfast, undeterred presence of Tibetan women and their resilience in the face of oppression encourages this self-sustaining struggle to rise against injustices and a repressive regime.

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetans in exile mourn self-immolation deaths in Tibet

Tibetan Women's Association

Tibetan Mother of Four Dies in Self-immolation Protest

Delhi, March 5: On Sunday 4th March 2012, a mother of four known as Rinchen self-immolated outside a Chinese security office in Ngaba, Tibet.

At 6:30am local time, Rinchen self-immolated outside a security office at the Kirti monastery, Ngaba. In order to make her protest, Rinchen travelled to the Kirti monastery from her home outside the Ngaba region. Once at the monastery she set herself alight outside the Chinese security office while shouting slogans calling for free Tibet, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Upon Rinchen’s death her body was carried into the monastery by monks. Rinchen, 33, had four children aged between thirteen years and just a few months old. Her husband, the children’s father, died last year.

The Kirti monastery has been featured widely in the international media during the last year following the self-immolation of a Kirti monk named Phuntsog on March 16th 2011. Phuntsog’s actions sparked a number of protests and at least fifteen further self-immolations in the Ngaba area alone. The monastery was overcome by Chinese authorities, with over three-hundred monks being detained despite the protests of local Tibetans. The Chinese security office outside which Rinchen self-immolated had been set-up as part of the extensive monitoring and repression the monastery and its monks have endured since Phuntsog’s protest almost one year ago.

Chinese authorities have attempted to portray the acts of protest and self-immolations at Kirti monastery as acts of religious extremism. However, Rinchen was a lay woman, and it is clear that religion alone did not motivate her action, but rather by her desperation at the on-going repression and human rights abuses faced by Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Since last year, Tibet has been subject to heavy military presence with Chinese security officers patrolling the streets and searching the homes of individual Tibetans. The growing number of Tibetans, both religious and non-religious, who are committing self-immolation, demonstrates the frustration felt by Tibetans at the on-going restrictions placed upon their freedom, and the recurring abuses of their human rights by Chinese authorities. TWA condemns any action which restricts the freedom of or goes against the basic human rights of Tibetans.