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Two Tibetans Self-Immolate in Lhasa

Two Tibetans Self-Immolate in Lhasa

Chinese officials have been adamant about keeping Tibetan protests for autonomy and freedom out of the major cities of the region. At least 37 Tibetans have set themselves on fire over the last 14 months in protest to China’s enforced rule over Tibet, but none of these demonstrations took place inside the capital city of Lhasa.

On Sunday, two men challenged Chinese authority by self-immolating in Lhasa in front of one of the most sacred temples in Tibet. The Jokhang Temple is a central pilgrimage site and covers more than six acres of land. The two men set themselves on fire and were quickly taken out of sight by security forces.

CNN reports that one of the young men, 19-year-old Tobgye Tseten, died. The other man, Dargye, was seriously injured but in stable condition in the hospital. A special task force has now been assigned to investigate the situation. Chinese officials have called the acts separatist attempts, which could foment unrest in the country. The Dalai Lama, who has been in exile for more than 50 years, is often blamed for encouraging such separatist attempts.

Daily News and Analysis reports that the two men walked out in front of the temple in the middle of the afternoon, shouted three times, and set themselves on fire. Security forces arrived quickly, put out the fire, cordoned off tourists and had the area cleaned out within 15 minutes. No trace of the demonstration was left behind.

Lhasa is now filled with military forces and a repressive atmosphere reigns since the incident on Sunday. The Chinese government has made an undetermined number of arrests since the Sunday demonstration and has shut down communication with the outside world.

Voice of America reports that, “eyewitnesses have photographed the latest protest, but they could not be forwarded because Chinese authorities immediately cut information links to the outside world.” The government is also planning to ban Tibetan Buddhists from celebrating the sacred month Saka Dawa, which celebrates the Buddha’s birth.

Chinese officials maintain that living conditions in Tibet have improved over the years. The first question that comes to mind is why more than 30 people have self-immolated in such a short space of time. 28 of those who have used this technique to demand freedom from China have died. Most of the demonstrators are Buddhist monks and nuns who were making a plea for the return of their religious leader, the Dalai Lama, as well as religious and political autonomy in the region.

Unfortunately, this most recent demonstration by Tobgye Tseten and Dargye has only added fuel to a blaze of government crackdowns. The capital city looks to be at the center of intensive investigation and control in the coming weeks after the protest. These self-immolations are reportedly the first demonstration inside the city limits of Lhasa since 2008. About 300 monks walked through the streets of Lhasa in that year.

Directly after the protest, Chinese officials put the city on lock down indefinitely, which explains why there are so few demonstrations in the capital and why these self-immolations have captured the world’s attention as well as the Chinese government’s ire.

Related Stories:

Tsampa Revolution: Tibet is Burning! At Rutgers University

Palden Gyatso on Tibet and Overcoming Anger

Tibetan Writer Calls for End to Self-Immolations

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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31 comments

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7:30PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

Free Tibet!

7:29PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

These were desperate acts. The powers that be ignore Tibet and even give tacit approval by engaging with the brutal, totalitarian regime that rules the Chinese Empire.

4:08PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

noted

12:38PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

...thinx he is a prisoner/ish...x

5:08AM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Never trust someone who doesn't have sex, by choice! You can bet he masturbates!
What people forget is that until 1959, Tibet was a Slave society run by fundamentalist Buddhists. Every family had to give their temple one of their sons. A theocratic society with more than a hundred religious holidays a year, the people (of whom most were living in abject medieval like poverty conditions) were ruled by myth and superstition. The majority of the people were inherited debt slaves, still paying off their ancestors debts to the temples who owned most of the land. 
Slavery was outlawed in Tibet when? 1959. First public schools? 1960. First university? 1960. First hospital 1960. All after the Dalai Lama and the royal and religious elite had left. 
It is evident that I am not a royalist neither do I respect religious leaders, the pope included, so when I see a man revered as some kind of god-king I tend to be cynical, I try my best not to be brainwashed by ancient dogma and modern fads. So at the risk of being unfashionable...Am I only one that thinks the Dalai Lama is a little bit fishy?

10:54PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Well, people here worship a Jesus who underwent crucifixtion for the sins of his people, these monks are doing something similar to help the people, by sacrificing themselves to the shame of a ruthless regime in order to free their people. Instead of condeming the monks for their actions, can't we see it that they did what they did out of LOVE? and desparation?
Animals and humans all fear fire...humans are drilled to fear eternal fire (hell) by churches who want to gain power. These monks were brave and intentions pure. It sure rattled /shamed the ones in charge. I pray that their souls are in peace according to their belief.

10:29PM PDT on May 31, 2012

"The Dalai Lama, who has been in exile for more than 50 years, is often blamed for encouraging such separatist attempts."

I saw Piers Morgan interview the Dali Lama on TV. That old dude doesn't look like he would
"encourage" anything, he said he never even has any sex. How come they're blaming him
for this? It's too bad these guys are killing themselves for nothing. There's no afterlife. This is the only chance we get.


5:53PM PDT on May 31, 2012

bless them

5:05PM PDT on May 31, 2012

FREE TIBET

3:01PM PDT on May 31, 2012

ty

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