Tibet: China's bloody crackdown on Tibetan protesters escalates, as self-immolations continue

Ethnic Tibetans throughout Tibet this week held some of the largest demonstrations against Chinese rule in four years. Chinese forces responded by shooting protesters. Up to 5 are said to have been killed and more than 30 wounded, according to Tibetan advocacy groups.

On January 9, a 42-year-old monk became the latest in a continuing string of desperate protesters who burned themselves alive to protest Chinese military rule and cultural repression.

A New York Times report gathered accounts from a number of human rights groups. NPR's Morning Edition today aired an extensive report on the worsening human rights crisis in Tibet (MP3 link).

Details are hard to confirm, as foreign press access to the areas involved is all but impossible. Free Tibet has more, and Radio Free Asia has compiled various reports.

Dr. Lobsang Sangay of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, issued a statement on the conflict, published in video on YouTube (and embedded above).

I want to tell my dear brothers and sisters inside Tibet that we hear your cries loud and clear. We urge you not to despair and refrain from extreme measures. We feel your pain and will not allow the sacrifices you have made go in vain. You all are in our heart and prayers each and every day. (...)

To demonstrate our solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet, I urge Tibetans and our friends around the world, to participate in a worldwide vigil on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. Let's send a loud and clear message to the Chinese government that violence and killing of innocent Tibetans is unacceptable! I request everyone to conduct these vigils peacefully, in accordance with the laws of your country, and with dignity.

Transcript here.

The Chinese government responded to activist groups' reports on one recent shooting incident with a statement blaming monks and protesters, saying they attacked stores and a police station, and started a riot.

“The mob, some armed with knives, threw stones at police officers and destroyed two police vehicles and two ambulances,” read the report from China's official news agency Xinhua.

And there are reports of fresh protests again today, with more shootings. From an item at Phayul.com, posted just three hours ago:

In reports coming out of Tibet, another Tibetan was killed and several others seriously injured in police firings in eastern Tibet earlier today. This is the third bloody incident this week when unarmed Tibetan demonstrators have been fired upon by Chinese security personnel. At around 12 noon local time, a Tibetan man named Tharpa put up signed flyers around Zu To Bharma Shang, declaring that until the demands of the Tibetans who have self-immolated are met, Tibetans will never abandon their struggle and continue to organise more campaigns.

Since March 2011, 16 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet. In a release today, the exile base of Kirti monastery said that Tharpa had himself gone around the town putting up the flyers with his name clearly signed on it.

“You, Communist Chinese, come and arrest me,” Tharpa had challenged.

Following the wave of self-immolations, numerous flyers and pamphlets have been reportedly cited in Ngaba and Drango areas, stating that many more Tibetans were ready to set their bodies on fire.

(via Nathan Freitas and Oxblood Ruffin)