31 years old Kalkyi(Kelsang Kyi) from Yultso village in Dzamthang county self-immolated today around 3:30 pm (Tibet time).
Kalkyi set herself on fire near Zamthang Jonang Monastery in Dzamthang township in Golok Pema, Ngaba in Amdo region, eastern Tibet (Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province in China). According to the sources, local Tibetans protected her body from Chinese authorities and taken to the monastery to say the prayers.
She is married to Drupe and has four children; a young daughter- Bhumo Chung and three sons-Denam, Pochung, Sopo, all are under fifteen. She is the 110th Tibetan and 16th Tibetan women from Tibet to set on fire to protest against China’s repressive policies. The common call of all the self-immolators is return of His Holiness the xivth Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibet.
This continuous increase of self-immolation cases clearly shows that Tibet has remained under lock down with a heavy military presence and Tibetans living under the constant threat of arbitrary detentions, disappearances, and the ruthless military control of Tibetan areas.
It is only half way through the month of November and there have been 10 self-immolation already. The intense situation inside Tibet is evident through the continuous increase in the number of self-immolation. The number now tolls to 72 and we are more afraid of how many more will follow in this martyrdom.
According to the confirmed reports from reliable resources, since 2009, 72 Tibetans have self-immolated inside Tibet and among them 9 are female: three nuns, five mothers and a student. Tenzin Wangmo and Tenzin Choedon were nuns from Mamae Nunnery in Ngapa and Palden Choetso was a nun from Dakar Choeling Nunnery in Tawu. Rinchen, Rikyo, Dickyi Choezom, Dolkar Tso and TamdingTso were all mothers. Rinchen was a mother of four children and her youngest child is only a few months old. Rikyo was a mother of three children. Dickyi Choezon was a mother of two. Dolkar Tso had two sons and TamdingTso was a mother of one child. Tsering Kyi was known as a young brilliant student. We are further saddened by death of these female martyrs.
No judgment should be made regarding the actions of the people who have chosen to self immolate. Instead, we not only express our deepest concern on the growing tragic cases of self-immolations by Tibetans inside Tibet, but also respect and recognize this martyrdom as the highest form of non-violent protest against the inhumane policies of the Chinese Government.
We firmly believe that the unbearable situation in Tibet is the core cause for these unfortunate and tragic cases. It is clear that these are symptoms of a constant fear of living under suppressive policies implemented by China in Tibet.We are here to remind China that as long as it continues to enforce its cruel crackdown, the number of self-immolations and protests will never cease. It is high time for China to accept their failed policies and think more realistically.
We urge the Chinese government, especially the upcoming Xi-jingping and 5th generation of China’s leaders to resolve their oppressive policies over Tibet and respond to the negotiations extended by the Exile-Tibetan leadership. The ruthless crisis that Tibetans have been experiencing for more than half a century within Tibet cannot be resolved through these callous crackdowns and unbearable policies.
In fact, they have unfortunately acted as an unwavering catalyst to the increasing amount of self-immolations and protests. Thus, it is important to continue to recognize the martyrs who seek to stop the oppression in order to put pressure on the Chinese leaders to deal with this serious issue.
Prominent Tibetan writer Woeser has been awarded a Prince Laus Award for her works of poetry, novels and blogs, on the Tibetan’s people plight and giving them a voice to the world.
The honour, named after the late husband of Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, is awarded to those whose works have achieved strides and positive effects in their cultural and social field.
A press release by the Prince Claus Fund said: “Woeser is honoured for her courage in speaking for those who are silenced and oppressed, for her compelling combination of literary quality and political reportage, for recording, articulating and supporting Tibetan culture, and for her active commitment to
self-determination, freedom and development in Tibet.”
This is not the first award that Woeser has won for her efforts to report on the suffering of the Tibetan people. In 2007 she was award the Norwegian Author Union’s 2007 Freedom of Expression Prize, and in 2010 the Internal Women’s Media foundation 2010 ‘Courage in Journalism award however on both occasions she was not permitted to travel abroad to accept the accolades, with the Chinese government denying her a passport on the grounds of ‘national security’.
After her 2004 novel, Notes on Tibet, was published and subsequently banned by the Chinese Government after nine months for opinions deemed ‘harmful to the unification and solidary of our nation’, Woeser has maintained an active online presence through her blog.
She and her husband Wang Lixiong, a fellow outspoken critic and writer on Tibet, have been living in self-imposed exile in Beijing. In a recent interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, she described the atmosphere in Lhasa as one dominated by ‘fear’, she added “You inevitably become contaminated by it to the point where you dare not to do anything anymore. In Beijing I feel almost free. The scale of this emotional city dilutes the fear.”
A beacon of truth casting light on Tibet’s dark history under Chinese tyranny, 40-year-old Woeser authors various kinds of literature, employing her extraordinary talent in Chinese, to praise her Tibetan heritage and correct China’s red interpretation of Tibet’s past, especially the 1966 to 1976 Cultural Revolution. The now internationally-recognized writer has attracted diverse readers inside and outside China, and perhaps most alarmingly, the Chinese government, which has taken measures to douse her flame of free expression.
In unequivocal attempts to subdue her already widespread popularity and subversive rhetoric, the Chinese government has banned the Lhasa native’s books, sacked her from her job with the Tibetan Cultural Association in Lhasa, and barred her from international travel. Most recently Woeser’s two blogs, the last legs of her mass outreach, have been shut down, presumably by orders from the Chinese administration, this past summer.
Woeser, born in Lhasa at the outset of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in 1966, iconizes the new generation of Tibetans born in Chinese-occupied Tibet who leave their mother language on the shelf and learn to read and write in Chinese. Having attended Chinese schools from childhood and eventually graduating from Chengdu’s Southwest Nationalities Institute in Chinese literature, Woeser takes advantage of her expertise in the language to educate Chinese about the Tibetan issue.
Upon graduation in 1990, she worked as a journalist, eventually moving back to Lhasa to join the Tibetan Cultural Association; all the while, she started poetry writing and tapping into her rich Buddhist culture. Woeser also found inspiration from reading works of foreign authors, such as Edward Said, prompting her to dig deeper into Tibet’s past. She discovered vast discrepancies between the “red education” she received in Chinese schools and her clandestine independent research about the Cultural Revolution and China’s inroads into Tibet on the pretense of liberating the country. Woeser’s father, a half-Tibetan-half-Han who once served as an officer of the PLA, confirmed some of her research.
Her mission to retell the story of Tibet had springboarded Woeser into publishing her prose and poetry in order to defend the truth. Her work culminated in Notes on Tibet, which led to her termination at the Tibetan Cultural Association in 2004 because she did not repent for publishing what the Chinese Government’s United Front Office named “political mistakes.”
Woeser turned to online-journalling in the wake of her dismissal and created two weblogs in order to make accessible her writings on Tibet. Short-lived, her blogs “Maroon Map” and “Woeser Blog” were closed last summer without explanation. Suspecting the handiwork of the Chinese government, Woeser explains that she had posted politically sensitive material, including a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama accompanied by a poem she composed for the religious leader on his birthday, July 6.
Despite the overt actions by the Chinese government to stifle her voice, the writer vows to continue her campaign against the illegal occupation through her compositions. A determined Woeser states in an interview with Radio Free Asia, “Though my blogs are shut down, they cannot stop my speech and my writing.”
Ngawang Sangdrol, of Garu Nunnery was detained in 1992 and imprisoned for participating in a non–violent demonstration against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Her prison term went from 3–years to a combined sentence of 23 years, for a several “crimes” within prison. Finally, she was released in 2002 for “good behaviour”.
Inside the infamous Drapchi prison in 1994, Ngawang Sangdrol and 13 other nuns clandestinely recorded songs and poems in tribute to their homeland and His Holliness the Dalai Lama. The recording spread out from the prison and reached the international community, who could hear the touching songs about prison life and the Tibetan women’s cry for freedom.
Here are the lyrics to the song “May No Others Suffer Like This”: Song of sadness in our hearts
We sing this to our brothers
What we Tibetans feel in this darkness will pass
The food does
not sustain body or soul
Beatings impossible to forget
inflicted upon us
May no others suffer like this
In the heavenly realm,
the land of snows
Land of unending peace and blessings
Reign supreme throughout all eternity
Prior to this incident, Ngawang was imprisoned aged just 13, for joining fellow nuns in Garu Nunnery in shouting “Independence for Tibet” and “Long live the Dalai Lama” during a protest. She served nine months in Gutsa detention centre before she was released. Unfortunately, this freedom was not to last.
Ngawang, is today one of the highest profile Tibetan ex-political prisoners, praised for having the courage and strength to stand up to the Chinese authorities. The result of her defiance was solitary confinement and torture.
Ngawang suffered beatings with iron rods and rubber pipes, electric cattle prods on the tongue, grueling hard labor, and complete darkness in solitary confinement for 6 months. She still suffers headaches and kidney and stomach problems as a result.
She describes an example of the hard labor: “For instance, we had to use night soil on the garden… You have to take turns to go down to the latrine and pass up the waste. When the bucket is pulled, inevitably it splashes and spills everywhere and it will go into your mouth” (BBC). However in this interview she noted that, “the mental torture was worse”, including denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a ban on religious practice.
She was imprisoned for 21 years, the longest for any female political prisoner in Tibet and China at that time.
According to Ngawang at one press conference “good behaviour” was not the real reason for her release: “The reason for my release was international pressure… I am out of prison but there are other prisoners still suffering. I still don’t feel that I’m really free now. We Tibetans are like prisoners in our own country.”
Ngawang was forced to leave Tibet following her release, leaving her sisters and brother behind. However, shel is still fighting for Tibetan independence and continues to stand up and tell her stories today. She now lives in the US, working as a human rights analyst for the International Campaign for Tibet .