Self-Immolation Epicenter Shifting from Ngaba to Rebkong?

Perhaps in response to the Party Congress, another cluster of self-immolations has broken out in Amdo. This one seems centered on Rebkong, as the latest example shows (via Phayul):

In more heartbreaking news coming out of Tibetan, a second Tibetan set himself on fire today in the Rebkong region of eastern Tibet.

Sources are confirming with Phayul that the Tibetan identified as Nyingchag Bum, 20, passed away in his protest in Dowa region of Rebkong.

“Nyingchag Bum from Yonlag Dewa set himself on fire on the main street of Dowa town,” Geshe Rongwo Lobsang Nyendak, a Tibetan member of parliament told Phayul. “Monks from the nearby Dowa Monastery carried his charred body inside the Monastery premises.”

In confirmed reports coming in, Nyingkar Tashi, 24, who set himself on fire this afternoon in Dro Rongwo has passed away in his fiery protest.

Various sources are telling Phayul that the situation around Rebkong region is “very tense” following the five self-immolations in the region this month alone, including two today.

A heavy deployment of Chinese armed forces is also being reported in the region.

This is in addition to other self-immolations over the last few days, in Ngaba and Tsoe:

Another Tibetan teenager burned himself to death Saturday in protest against Chinese rule in Gansu province in the eighth self-immolation this week, sources said.

As he burned, he called for “freedom for Tibetans, the return of [Tibet’s spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom of languages,” the source said.

Monks and other local Tibetans had wanted to take Gonpo Tsering to hospital but his condition was too critical and he was instead taken home, where he died, the source said.

After the burning, “Chinese security bureau officers arrived at the scene and they started investigating and questioning the monks and local Tibetans,” the source said.

The surge of articles on China caused by the Party Congress has resulted in a lot more press for the self-immolations than they had seen recently, including this good one from the NYT on the walls built between Tibetans and Chinese:

But while Tibetan rights advocates have long been inured to impassive officials, they are increasingly troubled by the deafening silence among Chinese intellectuals and the liberal online commentariat, a group usually eager to call out injustice despite the perils of bucking China’s authoritarian strictures.

“The apathy is appalling,” said Zhang Boshu, a political philosopher who lost his job at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences three years ago for criticizing the government’s human rights record.

The silence, some say, is exposing an uncomfortable gulf between Tibetans and China’s Han majority, despite decades of propaganda that seeks to portray the nation as a harmonious family comprising 56 contented minorities.

“It’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about,” said Wang Lixiong, a prominent Tibetologist and social theorist whose writings have drawn the unwelcome attention of public security personnel, including a contingent of police officers who kept him sequestered inside his Beijing apartment this week as the party congress got under way.

Mr. Wang and others say a subtle undercurrent of antipathy toward Tibetans suffuses the worldview of educated Chinese. That sentiment, they say, has been nurtured by official propaganda that paints Tibetans as rebellious, uncultured and unappreciative of government efforts to raise their standard of living.

One prominent filmmaker, speaking more candidly than usual, but only under the condition of anonymity, noted that many Chinese are alternately fascinated and repulsed by Tibetans. “We Han love their exotic singing and dancing, but we also see them as barbarians seeking to split the nation apart,” he said.

Ms. Woeser said that even her most open-minded friends are confounded by Tibetans, with their fierce religious devotion, their demands for greater autonomy and their aching for the return of the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing regularly dismisses as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Chinese intellectuals, she added, see Tibet as a forbidding, restive land, but also inseparable from China. “The Han are obsessed with issues of sovereignty,” said Ms. Woeser, who is married to Mr. Wang, the critic barred from leaving his home. “They want to claim Tibet as part of China, but they are not terribly concerned with the Tibetan people or their culture.”

Finally, a video from Kunleng showing the size of one of the protests in Rebkong:

This took place after one of the self-immolations. Watch the view at about a minute in, when the camera turns to show the size of the crowd behind the film-taker.

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Filed under Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

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