Self-immolation protests by Tibetans in China

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Map of Tibetan Self-Immolations, Updated 27 August 2012
Tapey, monk in Ngaba, Tibet (27 February 2009)

As of 11 April 2015 there have been about 138[1] reported self-immolations in Tibet since 27 February 2009, when Tapey, a young monk from Kirti Monastery, set himself on fire in the marketplace in Ngawa City, Ngawa County, Sichuan.[2] In 2011 a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans in Chinese-occupied Tibet, as well as in India and Nepal, occurred after the self-immolation of Phuntsog of 16 March 2011 in Ngawa County, Sichuan. Protests are ongoing.[3]


Most of the protesters have been monks and nuns, or ex-monks[4][5] Some of the protesters who set themselves on fire were teenagers.[6][7][8][9]

Most such incidents have taken place in China's Sichuan province, especially around the Kirti Monastery in Ngawa City, Ngawa County, Sichuan,[2] others in Gansu and Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region. Self-immolation protests by Tibetans also occurred in India[10] and Kathmandu, Nepal.[5]

According to Reuters the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, said in March 2012 he does not encourage the protests, but he has praised the courage of those who had engaged in self-immolation[11] and blamed the self-immolations on "cultural genocide" by the Chinese.[6] Four months later the Dalai Lama made clear that he wishes to remain neutral regarding this topic and he explained why to The Hindu:[12]

This is a very, very delicate political issue. Now, the reality is that if I say something positive, then the Chinese immediately blame me. If I say something negative, then the family members of those people feel very sad. They sacrificed their own life. It is not easy. So I do not want to create some kind of impression that this is wrong. So the best thing is to remain neutral.

Wen Jiabao, premier of China, said that such extreme actions hurt social harmony and that Tibet and the Tibetan areas of Sichuan are integral parts of Chinese territory.[13] According to The Economist, the self-immolations have caused the government's attitude to harden.[5]


Self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese domination of Tibet have had a greater impact than earlier protests. Despite considerable loss of life during the Tibetan protests in 2008 on the part of both the Tibetan and Han population in Tibet, casualties were simply not reported by the Chinese government. Self-immolations, on the other hand, result in dramatic images of the protester, while burning[5] or afterwards,[14] which can be easily transmitted over the internet to news media and supporters. Internet access has reached even remote areas in the parts of China where Tibetans live.[15]

However, sensitive areas of Tibet are often subject to communication clampdowns.[16] These blackouts, along with the ban of foreign journalists and human rights monitors, means obtaining exact numbers of self immolations in Tibet is difficult. However, a number of organisations, such as Free Tibet, do keep up-to-date lists of confirmed incidents.

Time and place[edit]


27.2. Ngawa 1


March: Ngawa 1, August: Kardze (Dau County) 1, September: Ngawa 2, October: Ngawa 5, Kardze 1, November: Kardze (Dau County) 1, India 1, Nepal 1, December: Chamdo 1


  • 86 (84 in Tibetan areas, Beijing, India 1)

January (4): Ngawa 3, Golog 1, February (6): Ngawa 4, Yushu (Thridu County) 1, Amdo Haixi 1, March (11): Kanlho 1, Ngawa 7, Malho (Rebkong County) 2, India 1, April (4): Kardze 2, Ngawa 2, May (3): Lhasa City 2, Ngawa 1, June (4): Malho (Cantsha County) 1, Yushu (Thridu County) 2, Yushu 1, July (2): Lhasa (Damshung County) 1, Ngawa 1, August (7): Ngawa 6, Kanlho 1, September (2): Beijing 1, Yushu (Zado County) 1, October (10): Nagchu 1, Kanlho 7, Nagchu (Driru County) 2, November (28): Malho (Rebkong County) 9, Malho (Zeku County) 3, Amdo Haidong 1, Ngawa 3, Ngawa (Zoige County) 2, Kardze 1, Nagchu (Driru County) 1, Kanlho 2, Kanlho (Sangchu County) 3, Kanlho (Luchu County) 3, December (5): Kanlho (Sangchu County) 1, Kanlho (Luchu County) 1, Golog 1, Ngawa 1, Malho 1,


  • 28 (26 in Tibetan areas, 2 Nepal)

January (3): Kanlho (Sangchu County) 2, Ngawa 1, February (9): Ngawa 1, Kanlho (Sangchu County) 2, Nepal 1, Ngawa (Zoige County) 3, Amdo Haidong 1, Kanlho (Luchu County) 1, March (5): Ngawa (Zoige County) 1, Ngawa 2, Kanlho (Sangchu County) 1, Kanlho (Luchu County) 1, April (3): Ngawa 1, Ngawa (Zoige) 2, May (1): Yushu (Chumarleb County) 1, June (1): Kardze (Dau County) 1, July (1): Ngawa (Zoige County) 1, August (1): Nepal 1, September (1): Ngawa 1, November (1): Golog 1, December (2): Ngawa 1, Kanlho (Sangchu County) 1,


  • 11

February (2): Malho 1, Ngawa 1, March (3): Malho 1, Ngawa 1, Kardze (Litang County) 1, April (1): Kardze (Dau County) 1, September: (2) Golog 1, Kanlho 1, December (3): Kanlho 1, Ngawa 1, Kardze (Dau County) 1,


  • 5 (until May 29)

March: Ngawa 1, April: Kardze 1, Ngawa 1 May: Kardze (Dau County) 1, Kanlho (Jonê County) 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edward Wong (11 April 2015). "Nun Sets Herself on Fire to Protest Chinese Rule in Tibet". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2015. She was the second woman to set herself on fire this year and the 138th Tibetan to do so since 2009 in Tibetan regions ruled by China, according to the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group based in Washington. 
  2. ^ a b Edward Wong (2 June 2012). "In Occupied Tibetan Monastery, a Reason for Fiery Deaths". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Teenage Tibetan nun sets herself on fire in China". The Daily Telegraph. London. Associated Press. 12 February 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d "No impact: Tibetan protests seem increasingly ineffective". The Economist. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Teenage Tibetan monk self-immolates, dies: rights group". Reuters. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Tibetan teen burns himself to death in China protest". BBC News. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Teenage Tibetan nun sets herself on fire in China". The Daily Telegraph. London. 12 February 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Two Tibetan teenagers die in self-immolations". BBC News. 28 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Self-immolation in India: Frighteningly common". The Economist. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Teenage monk sets himself on fire on 53rd anniversary of failed Tibetan uprising". The Daily Telegraph. London. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "Dalai Lama speaks of dilemma on spreading self-immolations". The Hindu. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "China Premier Wen Jiabao's comments at NPC press conference". Reuters. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "Photos of immolations". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Andrew Jacobs (23 May 2012). "Technology Reaches Remote Tibetan Corners, Fanning Unrest". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Communications clampdown". Free Tibet. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 

External links[edit]