Delhi, November 15: On Wednesday November 2nd 2011, Sonam Choedon, a female Tibetan activist, attempted self-immolation during a ‘Global Action’ protest in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Sonam, 42, poured petrol all over herself before some fellow protesters managed to wrestle her lighter from her hands. Earlier this year, she was subject to humiliation at the hands of the Nepali police when forced to undress in public. While participating in a hunger strike along with around 30 other Tibetans, Sonam was forced by police to remove her t-shirt which bore the slogan ‘Free Tibet and Stop the Killing in Tibet’ (view original news piece here). She is now being sought by Nepalese police forces and will face imprisonment if found.
This serves as yet another example of the growing number of Tibetans committing or attempting self-immolation as their situation continues to deteriorate, with other forms of protest having little or no affect. At least 11 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest this year alone; at least seven have died with others suffering incredible pain and injury. Such actions are undertaken in protest against China’s on-going occupation of Tibet and against the vast injustices and human rights abuses facing Tibetan people.
The protest Sonam was attending was part of a three day Global Action campaign calling for the international community to intervene and put a stop to the suffering and persecution of Tibetans. During the campaign peaceful protests were held in over sixty countries across the globe in support of the Tibetan people. Furthermore, Tibetans in an exile camp in Jawalakhel, Nepal joined together in sending blood letters to all of the G20 world leaders calling for international intervention to help Tibetans.
During the Global Action protests held in Nepal, police are reported to have made almost one hundred arrests. According to reports, Tibetans living in Kathmandu have been unable to move freely from their houses due to large numbers of armed police patrolling Tibetan areas of residence. Nepali police have also been conducting individual house searches and monitoring the phone lines of Tibetan activists. Such actions by Nepalese authorities to counter Tibetan activism are a response to increasing pressure from Chinese authorities.
The growing number of Tibetans attempting self-immolation is a response to the on-going repression of Tibetans within Tibet, along with the worsening situation for Tibetans in exile in Nepal. TWA condemns any cruel measures that restrict the freedom and fundamental human rights of Tibetans and remove their right to protest.