Two Tibetans self-immolate in Lhasa: is protest spreading?

Two Tibetans set themselves on fire Sunday in the first such protests against Chinese rule in Lhasa, the tightly controlled Tibetan capital. At least 34 Tibetans have self-immolated since March 2011.

Two Tibetans set themselves on fire outside a Buddhist temple in Lhasa, the first of a series of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule over Tibet to take place in the regional capital, Radio Free Asia reported on Monday.

The broadcaster said the two Tibetans were taken away by security forces who quickly cleared the area where the immolations took place on Sunday in front of the Jokhang Temple, a key pilgrimage site and tourist destination in the heart of Lhasa.

The city was "filled with police and paramilitary forces and the situation is very tense" in the wake of the self-immolations, the US government-sponsored broadcaster quoted an unidentified source in Lhasa as saying.

At least 34 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against China's six-decade rule over Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 24 have died.

Beijing has branded the self-immolators "terrorists" and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting them.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, as a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking more autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

Telephone calls to the Tibet Autonomous Region and Lhasa municipal governments were not answered.

Robbie Barnett, a Tibet expert at Columbia University in New York, said he had heard reports of the self-immolations from people in Lhasa, with a person describing the city as "boiling.

"For the Chinese authorities, it has very serious implications and suggests that the movement is spreading among Tibetans," Mr. Barnett told Reuters. "It could lead to an increased severity of restrictions and controls."

Voice of America, another US-backed radio station, reported online that the two Tibetans who set themselves on fire were restaurant workers, not monks.

Only one other self-immolation had been reported in the Tibet Autonomous Region, a province-level administrative area under the central government. The rest occurred in Tibetan-populated areas of other provinces in southwestern China.

The Chinese term for the Jokhang Temple was blocked on Monday on the popular microblogging site Sina Weibo.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Two Tibetans self-immolate in Lhasa: is protest spreading?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today