Tibetan nun self-immolation Ngaba October 2011

TWA holds global solidarity actions in honor of Tibetan martyrs

Tibetan nun self-immolates in Ngaba, Tibet: below image shows charred body of nun Tenzin Wangmo, after seven minutes of acute burning. Fellow nuns from the nunnery rush to the scene in Amdo Ngaba. We thank Mr. Jonang Shangpo for entrusting TWA with this photo.
Tibetan nun self-immolation Ngaba October 2011

Dharamsala, October 19: 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 Tenzin Wangmo, aged early 20’s, who died after a seven minute self-immolation protest; she is the first known Tibetan female to take this drastic and tragic action. View this press release in Tibetan here (PDF)

News emerged from reliable sources in Tibet that on October 17, around 1 pm (Tibet time), nun Tenzin Wangmo lit her body and did rounds of the sumo bridge, at a cross roads near her nunnery, 3 kilometers away from the Ngaba County market. Tenzin Wangmo raised the slogans: “We want the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to Tibet,” and “We want religious freedom in Tibet.”

Tenzin Wangmo belonged to Ngaba Mamae Dechen Choekorling Nunnery, the largest nunnery in Amdo Ngaba with 350 nun residents.

Wangmo’s death is the fifth case of self-immolation deaths and is the tenth self-immolation case in Tibet, the ninth in 2011; there has been a spate of self-immolation in Tibet with seven such cases in less than three weeks.

Of the ten self-immolations, the whereabouts and conditions of five of them are still not known.

52 years of Chinese subjugation of Tibet and the beefed up violent clampdown on Tibetans inside Tibet in the aftermath of the 2008 peaceful protests inside Tibet, have aggravated the growing resentment and frustration in Tibetans who out of sheer desperation resort to desperate measures such as taking one’s life, to express their true aspirations: the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, freedom to practice their religion and 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 in Tibet 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 the troops from Tibet and allow Tibetans their basic human rights: the freedom of speech, movement and religious practice.

We call on China to withdraw their 52 years of failed policies on Tibet and instead heed to the genuine aspirations of the Tibetans inside Tibet and accordingly engage in meaningful negotiations with the exile leadership to peacefully resolve the long -standing issue of Tibet.

To express your support please organise protest events in solidarity in your town or country, and sign/share the petition here (or sign this petition to the White House, USA). Also share this video of the Chinese military lockdown in Ngaba.

Save Tibetan lives

TWA condemns the ongoing crackdown in Ngaba, Tibet and calls for international action

Save Tibetan lives
Photo by David Huang

Dharamsala, October 9: On Friday TWA Central joined the Tibetan in exile community in being left completely stunned at the terrible news of two more self-immolations in Tibet; this follows last week’s unfortunate incident and makes a total of 7 self-immolations in Tibet this year. Yesterday evening TWA organized jointly a candlelight prayer offering to pay homage to all those martyrs, who recently resorted to such drastic action to raise their voices against brutal Chinese policy. In unison with this action, our worldwide regional TWA chapters are today holding candlelight vigils and prayer sessions in their homes, in all their respective locations.

The two teenagers were Choephel (aged 19) and Khaying (aged 18), formerly monks of the under siege Kirti Monastery; there have now been five self-immolations in Ngaba county within two weeks. According to reports, they held hands before setting fire to themselves, following which Chinese security extinguished the flames and took them to hospital; their current location and well-being is presently unknown, although at least one report has suggested Choephel has sadly died. Just five days ago, on Monday October 3, the Kirti Monastery monk Kelsang Wangchuk (aged 17) self-immolated himself whilst calling for freedom in Tibet. On September 26, Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang Kunchok self-immolated; on August 15 Tsweang Norbu, and on March 16 Lonsang Phuntsok.

Yesterday evening’s event – “Save Tibetan Lives: Light a lamp for the martyrs” – was held from 6pm to 7pm in TCV Day School in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, and organised by the central Tibetan Women’s Association, Students for a Free Tibet India and the R/Tibetan Youth Congress.

“We, the organizers of this protest act here today in Dharamsala, representing Tibetan people in exile demand that the Chinese Government immediately withdraw their troops from Kirti Monastery and help diffuse the tension” said Kirti Dolkar Lhamo, President of Tibetan Women’s Association who is also a MP in the Tibetan parliament in exile;“We will organize internationally coordinated campaigns to galvanize global pressure on the Chinese Government to end this military siege in Ngaba,” she said.

TWA’s demand: In response to this escalating crisis, we appeal to international bodies to pressurize the Chinese authority to withdraw all the army troops from the Ngaba (Chinese, Aba) locality, particularly from the Kirti Monastery. Without the help of the international community, we fear these acts of desperation may persist.

Candlelight vigil held in Dharamsala following two self-immolations in Tibet

Lobsang Kalsang

Dharamsala, September 26: As a misty evening drew in, Tibetan monks, lay people and supporters solemnly took to the streets of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala to hold a candlelight vigil following the distressing news of two self-immolations in eastern Tibet this morning, at around 10am local time. The two young monks were Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok, believed to be aged only 18.

Initial reports stated that one of the monks died immediately, whereas another was in a critical condition and taken away by security personnel. However thankfully it has since been announced by state news agency Xinhua that, according to doctors, the two are in a stable condition with minor burns. The report added that “the suicide attempt is under further investigation.” The full picture is still currently emerging with the two under custody of the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau police (PSB) at an unknown location, tight Chinese security surrounding not only Kirti Monastery but also neighbouring Se Monastery, and communications around Ngaba restricted.

It’s reported that prior to setting themselves on fire the two staged a peaceful protest raising slogans calling ‘long live the Dalai Lama’ and ‘religious freedom in Tibet’. Both are part of the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, known to be under particularly ruthless control by the Chinese authorities. One, Lobsang Kalsang, is a relative of Lobsang Phuntsok who died after setting himself on fire on March 16. Since that date Kirti Monastery has been overrun with Chinese government officials and subject to heavy security surveillance; monks have been unable to leave and constantly monitored by security personnel. Reports from sources inside Tibet also state that hundreds of monks have either disappeared or been arrested and dealt long prison sentences.

Lobsang Konchok

The desperate act of self-immolation – setting oneself on fire as a form of protest – has regrettably become all too familiar in Tibet of late, in reponse to harsh constraints prohibiting monks and nuns from freely practising their religion. This morning’s sad event was the third incident of self-immolation in 2011 alone.

This evening’s candlelight vigil was organised by the regional branches of the Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) and Tibetan Women’s Association (RTWA). From around 6pm, a large crowd gathered at McLeod Square in Dharamsala, marching by candlelight to the Martyrs Pillar at Tsuglakhang Temple where all silently gathered to hear some emotive speeches. The march was a time of profound sadness and sombre reflection, with the Tibetan community and its supporters once again reeling at the extreme actions Tibetans are being driven to.

Tibetan Women’s Association joins other NGOs, organisations and individuals from the exile community in expressing our deep regret that our fellow Tibetans are being forced to resort to such radical and desperate protest. We send our greatest condolences and prayers to the two monks and all family and friends. TWA demands fair treatment of these two young monks; calls on the Chinese government to immediately cease all security controls on Tibetans, Tibetan monasteries and Tibetan nunneries, particularly in Ngaba; and solicits the international community to take urgent and genuine action in pressuring China to end the unabating injustice inflicted on Tibetans.

You can add your voice to those expressing grave concern and demanding fair Chinese action by signing Free Tibet’s petition, supported by the International Tibet Network.

Photographs from this evening’s candlelight vigil can be viewed below or on Flickr.

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet

Candle light vigil following self-immolations in Tibet