January 19, 2012

Tibet: Language Activism Led to State Intimidation

Information has been released about the Tibetan man who self-immolated a few days ago in the Ngaba region of eastern Tibet. The self-immolation of 22-year-old Losang Jamyang on 14 January 2012 resulted in police action and public protests. This latest incident has brought the number of self-immolations in Ngaba to eleven in the last eleven months.

Below is an article by Phayul:

Details are finally emerging of the Tibetan man whose self-immolation on January 14 in the besieged Ngaba region of eastern Tibet led to public demonstrations and police firing.

The man has been identified as 22-year-old Losang Jamyang of the Gyatsotsang household in Shewa village the Andu area of Ngaba.

In a release yesterday evening, the exile base of the Kirit monastery in Dharamshala said that Lobsang Jamyang was a leading member of a popular association for the promotion of Tibetan language in his village and was exposed to “oppression and intimidation” from the local Chinese authorities.

On January 14 [2012] at about 1.30 pm local time, Losang Jamyang doused himself in petrol inside a public toilet cubicle at an intersection in Ngaba county town and set himself on fire. He then walked on to the street shouting slogans for the long life of the Dalai Lama and for freedom in Tibet.

“Soldiers and police in the vicinity started to beat him with spiked clubs, rather than putting out the flames, covered him with a white cloth, and continued to beat and stamp on him,” the release said.

Angered by the actions of the police, local Tibetans gathered at the site and demanded the body to be handed over to them.

Chinese security personnel reacted by arresting and beating people at random with spiked clubs and even opening fire on the crowd. Scores of Tibetans were injured and blinded and as earlier reports suggested, one Tibetan woman was killed in the gunfire.

“As a result, Choki Dawa of the Gatsang house in division 2 of Me’uruma township was taken to hospital in critical condition, with little chance of survival, two youths were also seriously wounded by the beatings, and a woman was blinded in one eye. Two women were wounded by gunshots fired by security forces,” the release said.

Eyewitnesses described the scene as “terrifying” and that people were being “beaten mercilessly”.

There are no further details on the number and identity of the arrested Tibetans.

According to Kanyag Tsering, an exile monk with close contacts within the region, many of the injured Tibetans are avoiding treatment in hospitals fearing arrests.

“The consequence of the medication would be much worse than the injury itself if Chinese security personnel traces and arrests the patient on charges of participating in the protests,” Kanyag said. "That is why many injured Tibetans are avoiding going to hospitals.”

As a result of the severe beating, Losang Jamyang succumbed to his injuries on January 16 in Barkham, Ngaba according to the Kirti monastery release. It is not yet known whether Losang Jamyang’s body has been handed over to his family.

Security forces in the region are reportedly on high alert as Chinese authorities put up warning posters on the main streets of Ngaba in order to intimidate local Tibetans.

However, leaflets have appeared in the region, urging Tibetans to shun celebrations during the upcoming Tibetan new year by eating “poor food” and wearing “old clothes” as a sign of “public mourning”.

Since Tapey's self-immolation in 2009, 17 Tibetans including nuns, monks, and laymen have set their bodies on fire calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

Ngaba has been at the nodal point of the fiery wave of self-immolations with 11 Tibetans setting themselves ablaze in the past 11 months.

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