Monk Shot by Chinese Police After Self-Immolating in Protest in Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet just put out this release on the shooting of a monk who had self-immolated in protest in Tibet.

Hong Kong – A Tibetan monk was shot by Chinese police today after he set himself on fire at 1:40pm Beijing Time in Ngaba town (Chinese: Aba) in eastern Tibet. According to eyewitnesses, Tape, a monk in his 20’s from Kirti monastery, was shouting slogans and carrying a homemade Tibetan flag with an image of the Dalai Lama on it when he set himself on fire at the crossroads of the main market. Eyewitness reports indicate the police fired three shots at Tape after he set himself on fire. At least one of the bullets made contact. His body was removed almost immediately and it is unclear whether he survived the incident.

“That a young monk felt compelled to self-immolate in protest shows that China’s repression in Tibet is driving Tibetans to the brink,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “This desperate action is a reflection of the intense frustration and pain that all Tibetans are feeling after nearly a year of being mercilessly targeted and oppressed by the Chinese authorities, and after having endured 50 years of subjugation at the hands of the Chinese government.”

Reports from Kirti monastery indicate that Tape’s protest came shortly after 1,000 monks, including Tape, were stopped from entering the monastery’s main prayer hall to engage in prayers for the 3rd day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. After being blocked from entering the hall, the monks sat down outside and were preparing to go ahead with their prayers when older monks pleaded with them to disperse. The monks complied and went back to their rooms. Shortly afterwards, Tape came out of the monastery and once on the street he took out the flag and began walking towards the main market just a few minutes away.

Dozens of Tibetans from Ngaba and the surrounding area were killed last year, and many more disappeared and were imprisoned, when protests swept across Tibet. Graphic photos of Tibetans shot and killed by Chinese forces in Ngaba were some of the only images of the fatalities in the protests that reached the outside world. Following the protests, the monks of Kirti monastery were the targets of some of the most extreme torture, abuse and intimidation by Chinese authorities. The entire region has been under lockdown for the past year and in recent months foreigners have been blocked from entering Ngaba.

Also, Tibet Will Be Free has posted a series of photos released by Radio Free Asia of hundreds of monks from Lutsang Monastery holding a candlelight vigil in Mangra County, Tibet. Kate at TWBF points out: “Lutsang Monastery is located in Mangra Country, a few hours from Rebong. Monks from this same monastery also took part in a protest last year on March 10, 2008.”


The Guardian has a story on the immolation/shooting of the Tibetan monk Tabe, with added reports from Free Tibet Campaign.



During visits to four monasteries, pictures of the Dalai Lama were openly displayed, a symbol of resistance to Chinese rule. The heightened security, including police presence and increased troop deployments in Tibetan areas, means protests are less likely this year. For one monk, “Cerdan,” whose real name was withheld to protect his identity, openly showing the Dalai Lama’s picture has become a test of will.

“Even if there are problems, we’ll display his picture. Even if they kill us, we’ll display it,” he said.

Accountability Now

Accountability Now formally launched today. The concept is for some big progressive organizations and top bloggers – people like Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas, Glenn Greenwald, Nate Silver, MoveOn, SEIU, and Color of Change – to put together the resources and energies to primary bad, conservative Democrats. To me there is really nothing more exciting happening in the Democratic Party today than the prospect of having more democracy and challenging incumbents who fail to represent their district and the party.

Sam Stein of Huffington Post has the best article on Accountability Now so far.

More Tibet Coverage in NYT

Episode 12 of “Our Nation” includes a discussion of today’s New York Times front page piece by Edward Wong, which talks about the No Losar movement and the security crackdown on Tibetans by the Chinese government during Tibetan New Year. Wong’s piece is incredibly well written and it does a great job of showing the committed defiance of Tibetans inside Tibet. I agree with Lhadon and Tendor that this is one of the best recent articles on Tibet.

An informal grass-roots boycott is under way. Tibetans are forsaking dancing and dinner parties for vigils with yak-butter candles and the chanting of prayers. The Losar campaign signifies the discontent that many of China’s six million Tibetans still feel toward domination by the ethnic Han Chinese. They are resisting pressure by Chinese officials to celebrate and forget.

“It’s a conscious awakening of an entire people,” said Woeser, a popular Tibetan blogger.

Nevertheless, the monks have put photographs of the Dalai Lama back up in prayer halls and in their bedrooms. One monk held up an amulet of the Dalai Lama dangling from his neck.

“The Chinese say this is all one country,” he said. “What do we think? You don’t know what’s in our hearts. They don’t know what’s in our hearts.” The monk tapped his chest. …

To try to maintain calm in the monastery, government officials meet regularly with a council of eight older monks. In early February, they had a frank discussion with the council, a senior monk said.

“They said they don’t want any trouble from us,” he said. “They said they punished us last year by putting us in jail. This year, the punishment will be this — ” The monk held up a thumb and index finger in the shape of a pistol.

Both the Wong piece and Woeser’s recent writing on Tibet do more to correct the incorrect notion that the No Losar Movement started by Tibetan’s in exile. In reality, it originated in Tibet and spread outward. The coverage surrounding the movement is a testament to the power it has had.  The Western press, other than during the nationanl uprising last year and during the Olympics, hasn’t shown a tremendous interest in covering Tibet nor the Chinese government crackdown against Tibetans’ pursuit of rights and freedom. The No Losar movement has changed that in a big way.