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.