Another victim of self-immolation marks suffering for Tibetans in China

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Tibetan Buddhist monk Tsering Gyal
Twenty-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk Tsering Gyal. Image: Free Tibet

(WNN) Lhasa, PEOPLE”S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, EASTERN ASIA: In a continuing series of self-immolations highlighting the continuing plight for indigenous Tibetans living inside the region of China, a young 20-year-old Buddhist monk name Tsering Gyal has miraculously survived, but reports on-the-ground say he is in serious condition, following a suicide attempt after catching himself on fire. The young monk attempted his self-immolation in the northeastern region of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, known by China’s government as the Qinghai Province to highlight the ongoing struggles of Tibetan people in China.

Tsering Gyal, who is a monk from the Akyong Monastery, was severely injured today at 5:30pm local time during his self-immolation protest. As he attempted suicide to bring attention to the ongoing plight of Tibetans living in China. Those Tibetans living have  described ongoing experiences of  “military intimidation and subordination.”

Although local police put out the flames surrounding Gyal’s body, this did not take away the reason for the monk’s desperate act as he attempted to protest the ongoing struggle for ethnic Tibetans living in the region. Struggles for Tibetans living inside China have been due partly to an ongoing Chinese policy that gives no local decision-making or policy making power to Tibetans living in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Viewing Tibetan ‘religiousity’ as a danger to Chinese society and ethics, the government of China has also systematically attempted to strip indigenous Tibetans living in the region in fully expressing their religious heritage.

“Although authorities permitted some traditional religious ceremonies and practices during the year, including public manifestations of religious belief, they rigorously confined most religious activities to officially designated places of worship, often restricted or canceled religious festivals, forbade monks from traveling to villages to conduct religious ceremonies, and maintained tight control over the activities of religious leaders and religious gatherings of laypeople,” said the U.S. State Department online in 2013 for the International Religious Freedom Report for 2012.

The abuse in human rights against native indigenous Tibetans who have lived in the region for what some experts say have been ‘thousands of years’ has also included forced re-housing and relocation.  According to Human Rights Watch forced re-housing has included government sponsored destruction of original family homes.

In addition to forced relocation, government sanctions against Tibetans worshiping at home the way they wish to worship has also been part of China’s government policy. Today those who wish to have a picture of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, on their personal shrine are denied from doing so.

In 1996 all monasteries in the Tibetan region as well as all restaurants and hotels in Lhasa were told they were no longer allowed to show any picture of the Dalai Lama. In response many people began to show an empty frame on their shrines or walls. Today the crackdown against images of the Dalai Lama as a religious leader continue as police search for photographs of the Dalai Lama in people’s personal automobiles. Searches for other Tibetan Buddhist religious images are also being made by police. Some of those who have resisted the police taking their religious photographs have been beaten and/or arrested, say eye-witnesses in the region to Radio Free Asia.

“Tibetans have no say in the design of policies that are radically altering their way of life, and – in an already highly repressive context – no ways to challenge them,” said HRW – Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson upon the release of a detailed report by HRW in late June 2013.

Called the “grid system of social management” by Chinese authorities, tourism in the region is exclusively controlled by the Chinese government. While the government shares that public social and economic gains in the region are now bringing gains to the region because of tourism, numerous locals in the region continue to feel stripped of their privacy and power to live as they wish without military surveillance or control.

The 3 year surveillance program that began in the region’s capital city of Lhasa under the direction of Deputy Communist Party Chief Mr. Zhi Haijie has recently reached a level of sustainability. Surveillance equipment in the city is now being used under the umbrella term ‘Safe Cities’ in the capital city, as well as other urban areas in China include domed digital cameras, high-definition security video monitors, as well as technology devices that enable internet and phone monitoring.

Setting up the surveillance program also comes with a complex array of buying and selling on the international stock market exchange as those living on-the-ground, especially the Tibetan indigenous, are subject to increasing denials of privacy.

Tibetan Buddhist monk Tsering Gyal on fire under self-immolation protest
Tibetan Buddhist monk Tsering Gyal lies on the street after he attempts to complete a self-immolation protest suicide in Qinhai province. Minutes after the young monk caught himself on fire local police put out the flames, but Gyal had already suffered from serious injuries. Although the state of his condition is not known reports have come in saying he is in the a hospital in critical care. Image: Free Tibet

Despite continued pleas for the government of China to stop actions in what global activists say is the ‘denial of human rights’, conditions in the Tibetan Autonomous Region does not publicly appear to be a cause for government concern as acts of desperation under self-immolation continue.

“Vice President Xi Jinping Thursday [July 18, 2013] urged Tibetans to unswervingly follow the Communist Party of China (CPC) to build a brighter future,” outlined the State run newspaper People’s Daily during a tour China’s Vice President made to the region last summer.

“Addressing the villagers, Xi said it was the socialist system, the correct leadership of the CPC [Communist Party of China], and the implementation of various preferential policies that led Tibetan people to their good life today,” continued People’s Daily.


To date over 120 people, including women, have committed or attempted to commit suicide under self-immolation protest.

“On November 25, Sangay Dolma, a young nun from the Gonshul Nunnery, self-immolated outside a government building in Duohemao (Dokarmo) Township, Zeku County, Malho (Huangnan) TAP, Qinghai Province,” said the U.S. State Department. “Many of the self-immolators, including a large number of laypersons, were reported to have been clutching photos of the Dalai Lama and calling for religious freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet as they set themselves alight. The vast majority of these incidents resulted in death,” the State Department continued to outline.

Two family members, who according to China’s usual government policy are not normally given access to self-immolation survivors, were given permission to accompany Tsering Gyal to critical care at the hospital in Xining after community protests followed the young monk’s self-immolation attempt.

Although counting the correct figures for nuns and monks inside the Tibetan Autonomous Region may be impossible, numerous Buddhist monastics have now begun to leave some of the monasteries and nunneries where they have lived for years. According to the U.S. State Department some monks and nuns have actually given up their monastic robes in order to wear layperson’s clothing to protect them from discrimination.

“The number of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in monasteries and nunneries fluctuated significantly, due in part to religious personnel leaving their monasteries and nunneries to avoid government-imposed ‘patriotic education’ and ‘legal education’ campaigns, forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama, and other acts they felt constituted a betrayal of their religious beliefs,” added the U.S. Department of State.

Those who have died under self-immolation protest now include more than those living in monastic communities. They include farmers, young mothers, students and traveling nomads who have committed suicide to bring the message of desperation of needs under cultural and religious freedom to the government of China.

“Tibetans have demonstrated their resistance to Chinese rule in recent months in many ways, including mass protests against exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources and attempts to fly the Chinese flag on their homes. These have been met with brutal violence but protests continue. While self-immolations have become more infrequent, it is clear that Tibetans continue to show their determination in opposing Chinese rule. It is time for Beijing to recognize that repression is a failed policy in Tibet, and time for world leaders to stop ignoring Tibet’s resistance,” outlined Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren.

According to Human Rights Watch approximately 2 million people living in the Tibetan Autonomous Region have been forcibly relocated or have had their houses rebuilt without their permission over the past years by the Chinese government.


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