HH Dalai Lama in Oslo, May 2014!

We have the great pleasure to announce that the Dalai Lama is coming to Oslo in May. He comes at the invitation of Karma Tashi Ling, Nobel Institute and The Norwegian Tibet Committee at the occasion of 25th anniversary of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

This we are going to celebrate big, but with only five months to prepare for his visit, we need many volunteers who want to help. If you want to contribute you can already send us an email at info@tibet.no.

The program is not set, but we expect that it will be possible to see and hear the Dalai Lama on 8th and 9th May. More information about the program and tickets will arrive via email, Facebook and website www.dalailama.no.

Seminar 8th October

Censorship: The great (fire) wall of China

Date: Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Time: 17:15 until 19:00

Place: Auditorium 3, Eilert Sundts hus, Blindern, Oslo

The seminar will focus on the current situation of internet censorship in China. How does the largest growing economy in the world handle the increasing number of internet users?
The Chinese government is spending a huge amount on internet censorship. Is the use of the internet a way to monitor citizens opinions?
Does the degree of censorship vary from one place in China to another? Is it for instance more open and relaxed in Beijing than it is in Tibet? How does the use of internet in China affect civil life, citizens and the CCP?

The panel:
– Torbjørn Færøvik, Author and historian
– Mette H. Hansen, PhD in China Studies, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo
– Dechen Pemba, blogger

Moderator: Heidi Fjeld, associate professor

The seminar will be held in English.
The event is free and open for all!

Den norske Tibet-komité, SUM – Centre for Development and the Environment and SAIH-Blinder

Tsering Woeser awarded 2013 International Women of Courage Award

Tsering Woeser awarded 2013 International Women of Courage Award.

Tsering Woeser Tibetan author, poet, and blogger living in Beijing, Honored with the 2013 International Women of Courage Award by the US State Department

The State Department said in a press release: “In a period marked by increasing self-immolations and protests in Tibetan areas of China, Tsering Woeser has emerged as the most prominent Mainland activist speaking out publicly about human rights conditions for China’s Tibetan citizens. Born in Lhasa, Tsering Woeser’s website, Invisible Tibet, together with her poetry and non-fiction and her embrace of social media platforms like Twitter, have given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information. Despite the constant surveillance of security agents and routinely being placed under house arrest during periods deemed to be politically sensitive, Tsering Woeser bravely persists in documenting the situation for Tibetans, noting that “to bear witness is to give voice to,” and asserting that “the more than 100 Tibetans who have expressed their desire to resist the forces of oppression by bathing their bodies in fire are the reason why I will not give up, and why I will not compromise.”

Norwegain Tibet Committee would like to congratulate Tsering Woeser for getting this honor in recognition of her courage and dedication to the cause of Tibet.

Unfortunately she will be not able to come to USA to receive the award. She has been denied travel outside China and denied passport.

Read more on Phayul internet site.

Pressrelease 4.03.2013

More than 27 Tibetan Community Associations, representing European citizens of Tibetan origin from across Europe, are organizing a mass solidarity rally in Brussels on 10 March 2013 to commemorate the 54th Tibetan National Uprising Day of 1959.

Nearly 5,000 Tibetans from several European countries and friends of Tibet from different parts of Europe are expected to converge in Brussels on 10 March to express their solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet, highlight the tragic situation and the self-immolation crisis in Tibet and seek support of the European Union and its Member States for the non-violent freedom struggle of the Tibetan people.

On that day, a grand peace march will start from Gare du Nord at 11.30 a.m and will culminate at Le Mont des Arts in Brussels city centre where a mass rally will be held throughout the afternoon (1.30/2 pm). A wide range of guest speakers from the Central Tibetan Administration, the European Parliament and prominent personalities from Europe will address the rally. On 7 and 8 March, young Tibetan activists and friends of Tibet will engage in lobbying at the European Parliament to apprise them of the current situation inside Tibet and to call upon them to engage in practical steps to support the issue of Tibet.

Since 2009, 107 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibet. The most recent were two young Tibetans Tsesung Kyab and Phagmo Dhondup who self-immolated on 24 and 25 February 2013. The messages these protesters have left behind are testaments to their motivations and aspirations of freedom for the Tibetan people and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Restive areas of Tibet are being kept under strict military control and journalists, tourists and other visitors are not allowed to visit Tibet. Criminal prosecutions are being carried out to target the families and friends of those self-immolating. It is evident that Beijing is attempting to contain this new force of resistance through ever more draconian measures.

The spate of self-immolations in Tibet is one of the most drastic forms of political protests the world has witnessed in the past 60 years. We still continue to see no end to it. In response, Chinese government continues to blame His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the outside forces for these acts of self immolations, and continues to impose hard line policies of repressions on the Tibetan people which further fuel dissent and cause such drastic acts of protests by the Tibetans. The self-immolations expose a crisis in the Beijing leadership’s Tibet policy and there is an urgent need for a fundamental change in its approach vis-a vis Tibet.

The European Parliament has adopted an impressive number of resolutions on Tibet and the EU’s High Representative, Lady Ashton, has also issued statements expressing deep concern about the violations of human rights in Tibet and displaying support and solidarity with the people of Tibet. We greatly value the support and are deeply grateful for the expression of concern, support and solidarity by the European Union. However, what has been lacking so far are sustained and coordinated efforts with a clear political strategy and agenda. The EU-China Human Rights dialogue has failed to produce any tangible results in the past 17 years since the start of this dialogue in 1995. During this period the human rights situation in China in general and particularly in Tibet has worsened significantly.

We, therefore, appeal to the European Union and its Member States to:

  • Urge China to review its failed hardline policies in Tibet and address the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people by resolving the issue of Tibet through dialogue.
  • Urge China to allow unfettered access to Tibet for the media, the United Nations and International fact-finding delegations to investigate and report on the real causes behind the self-immolations;
  • To instruct EU Special Representative for Human Rights to seek access to Tibet and to undertake a fact-finding mission to Tibetan areas on a priority basis;
  • To appoint an EU Special Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs with the primary task of encouraging and facilitating a dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet;

The organizing Committee for the 10th March European Solidarity Rally

Points of Contact:

Vincent Metten, International Campaign for Tibet, EU Policy Director (media coordinator), Contact  Cell Phone +32 (0) 473990440, Office +32 26094412

– Mr. Tashi , Media contact ( Tibetan), Contact No. +31 684 933832

– Mr. Lobsang Gangshontsang, Media contact ( English), Contact No. +41794423405

– Mr. Thupten Gyatso, Media Contact (French), Contact No. + 33680729054

Norwegian Tibet committee’s Youth Section

Norwegian Tibet committee’s Youth Section

Short background

The Youth Section began with an individual’s involvement. Hallvard Strømsnes came across Tibet Committee stand at Karl Johans gate, Oslo and got a glimse of situation in Tibet through committee members. Thereafter, Strømsnes, along with several of his young friends engaged themselve in Tibet issue and participated in demonstrations with the Committee. After this, these enthusiastic youths in Norway came in closer association to the Committee and its members. Number of youths interested in Tibet issue increased rapidly in number and it continued to increase. Therefore, it was felt a need of a concrete organisation to raise the issue. Finally they came to the conclusion that they should create their own youth organization under Norwegian Tibet Committee. It was in autumn 2012, group of Norwegian youths dedicated to do something for the just cause of Tibet, created a youth Organisation with Strømsnes as a leader.

Goals and Aims of the Tibet Committee’s Youth Section

Tibet Committee’s youth Section’s main goal is to create awareness about situation in Tibet among Norwegain people. We believe that the issue gets far too little attention today, not only from politicians, but from the media and the people in general. Conditions in Tibet are unacceptable, and this needs to be known to the people. Therefore, we have a goal to pass the information on. We plan to create a debate among people through newspaper articles and actions. This will draw the attention of the people on the case and make it relevant. Thus, it will make it easier to national newspapers to write about the oppression of the Tibetan people.

We have previously demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy, and now set up a publicity committee, so that we can work more concentrated on getting attention around our message. We believe that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, culture and democracy, and this basic freedom is denied to the Tibetans.

What we do on Tibet committee’s youth section’s meetings?

We are working to improve conditions in Tibet and we are under the Norwegian Tibet Committee. We have over 80 members with steadily increasing number. At the meetings, we often have speakers. we had invited Oystein Alme from the radio station “Voice of Tibet”, who spoke about what they do to improve situation in Tibet. At the meetings, we also plan demonstrations and actions about how we can get awareness about Tibet. We divides the youth in several committees during the meetings. Among other things, we have creative ways to create and organize our website, and a public-relations committee that is working to raise awareness about Tibet. The meetings are often sections with brainstorming where we discuss and debate what we can do to achieve our goals. Meetings are also social and we work a lot with a good team spirit among members of the organization.

Tibet Committee’s youth section, something for you?

Youth is an open and inclusive congregation that is extremely positive to new members. We think it’s always fun with new faces, and there is no obligation to come to a meeting. Seems like something for you, or are you are just curious? Come to our next membership!



Tibet film evening on 7th feb.2013 with three Tibetan films

Human Right and Human Wrong Film Festival Oslo 5-10 Febouary


The Human Rights Human Wrongs Film Festival (HRHW) is organised by The Human Rights House Oslo and Oslo Dokumentarkino (the Oslo Documentary Cinema). The first version of the festival was organized in December 2008 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration.

Tibet film evening on 7th feb.2013 with three Tibetan films

HRHW 2013, Norwegian Tibet Committee and Voice of Tibet welcomes you to a whole evening packed with interesting films and discussions.

The evening will entail several movies and a debate about the situation in Tibet and Tibetans in exile. Every film will be followed by discussion with panel and audience. Members on panel are Ngawang Choephel (Director for Songs in Tibet), Chungdak Koren og Øustein Alma. We look forward to seeing you at Cinemateket February 7.


Tibet Night part 1: Two films and debate at 5pm.

Tibet Night part 2: Film Tibet in song at 9pm.

All the events will take place at Cinemateket/ Filmens Hus, screening rom “Lillebil”. Cinemateket is located at Dronningens gate 16.

Tibet Night Part 1: Film no. 1: LEAVING FEAR BEHIND

(Dhondup Wangchen, Tibet 2008, 23 min)

The filmmakers travelled thousands of miles in Tibet, asking and filming what ordinary Tibetans really feel about their situation, about China and about the Dalai Lama. The answers are frank and powerful. The filmmakers were arrested after finishing the film.


Chinese authorities say that the Tibetans are living happy and prosperous live fully enjoying religious, cultural and social rights and freedom of expression. On the contrary the Tibetans claim that “Everything Tibetan” is under attack and call China’s repressive policies “cultural genocide”. Whom are we to believe – and what is the real situation in Tibet right now?”

Tibet Night Part 1: Film no. 2: THE SUN BEHIND THE CLOUDS (80 min)

(Ritu Sarin and Tenzin Sonam, Tibet 2009, 80 min)

This film is a potent update on 50 years of Tibetan struggle. The Sun Behind the Clouds looks at China’s occupation of Tibet from the perspective of the vocally secessionist Tibetan youth, and from that of their spiritual leader H.H. The Dalai Lama.

Tibet Night part 2: TIBET IN SONG

(Ngawang Choephel, Tibet 2009, 86 min)

Cinemateket/ Filmens Hus kl 21.00

In cooperation with the Norwegian Tibet Committee and Voice of Tibet.

Tibet – a cultural genocide? Tibet in Song is a heartbreaking tale of cultural imperialism, exploitation and resistance. The film provides a raw and uncensored look at how China aims to transform Tibetan culture. The film is giving voice to Tibetans engaged in the fight for their cultural heritage and speaking out against Chinese policies.

Ngawang Choepel was sentenced to 18 years in prison for making this film. He was released after six years of relentless protests from, among others, Amnesty International and his own family. Tibet in Song is a heartening tale of cultural exploitation and resistance, including Ngawang’ own imprisonment for filming folk songs in Tibet, and ends with a look at Tibet today, a country still plagued by Chinese brutality, yet still willing to fight for the existence of its own cultural heritage.

The film celebrates the traditional Tibetan folk music and encompasses a harrowing journey into the past fifty years of cultural repression inside Chinese controlled Tibet.

Introduction and Q&A with film director Ngawang Choephel.

Responses to the China’s ambassador for Norway, article in Aftenposten

The Chinese Ambassador to Norway, Zhao Jun, had an article published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on 17 December on Tibet and His Holiness.

Below are two replies to Zhao Jun’s article which was published in the same newspaper on 20 December. The first is my reply and the second is from the Norwegian Tibet Committee’s Acting Chair Grzegorz Odor.


Chungdak Koren, European representative of the Tibetan parliament in exile

18 December 2012

If the Chinese Ambassador to Norway Zhao Jun’s reports on Tibet in his article on 17 December are true, then why is Tibet closed to foreign journalists? Journalists are not allowed to go to Tibet. There are even strong restrictions on foreign tourists. It’s quite strange if the Ambassador believes that Tibetan people are satisfied and happy in Tibet.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama handed over political power to a democratically elected political leader in 2011 and is now only a religious leader of the Tibetan people. The Ambassador’s one sided focus on His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an unsuccessful attack in terms of the political situation in Tibet. In our eyes, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has not done any of the things the Chinese authorities believe he has done, such as a desire for war and the division of China. The exile government wants greater autonomy within China’s territorial boundaries and the Dalai Lama has said he would like to visit China on pilgrimage if the Chinese authorities will accept this. The answer, however, has been negative to his request. What His Holiness the Dalai Lama wishes is peace between the Tibetan and Chinese people and basic human rights. This is what he believes is the basis for stability in the future.

Over 90 Tibetans since 2009 have self-immolated to death as a protest against Beijing, the biggest wave of political self-immolations in modern history. The demand of the self-immolators is more freedom for Tibetans, for the Chinese authorities to respect Tibetan religion, culture and language and His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return to Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a religious leader and has a moderate and pragmatic attitude toward China. He is a key person for a peaceful solution for Tibet. Given the situation, it is a pity that the Ambassador continues to accuse the Dalai Lama for China’s own failed policies in Tibet since the occupation in 1950. It is both unproductive and extremely regrettable.


Seeing is Better than Hearing
Grzegorz Odor
Board Chairman, Norwegian Tibet Committee

The Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jun (article of 17 December) must be familiar with the Chinese proverb “Seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times.” It would have had a greater positive effect on China’s reputation if China allowed foreign and Norwegian journalists to travel to Tibet under the Ambassador’s own initiative and recommend the same to the “Norwegian friends.”

Since we are on the reading material we would recommend to the Ambassador the “Tibet report” by Gongmeng Institute from 2009, a progressive think tank founded by Chinese lawyers from Beijing University. They concluded that the cause of the protests in Tibet is China’s failed policies, and that it is inappropriate to continue to blame “foreign powers”.

Unfortunately, Tibet has been totally closed to foreign journalists. Tibetans who have sent pictures of protests abroad have been punished with long prison sentences.

China must urgently address deep-rooted frustrations with human rights in Tibetan areas

GENEVA (2 November 2012) – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged Chinese authorities to promptly address the longstanding grievances that have led to an alarming escalation in desperate forms of protest, including self-immolations, in Tibetan areas.

Read more on the page of United Nations Human Rights page


More than 50 French Municipalities adopt villages in Tibet

In a unique show of support for the Tibetan cause, more than 50 cities and towns in France have formally adopted villages and towns inside Tibet as sister cities.

The initiative launched by local Tibet support groups in France is aimed at “preserving the rich cultural heritage of Tibet” and to bring international concern over the “destruction of Tibet’s rich cultural heritage” in the parliaments and governments of democratic states.

On October 6 [2012], the city of Montbeliard in eastern Franche Comte and the municipality of Amfreville la Mivoie became the latest Municipalities in France to adopt Tibetan villages. While Montbeliard formally adopted Kharta, a small Tibetan village at the foothills of Mount Everest, Amfreville la Mivoie adopted Phari in western Tibet.

According to the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration, the mayor of Montbeliard during the adoption ceremony underlined the importance of Tibet’s unique cultural identity and its preservation, which he said faced destruction at the hands of China. He also emphasised on the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people, which he said needed to be upheld and supported, while rendering the city’s total support to the non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people.

Speaking to Phayul, Tsering Dhondup, secretary of Bureau du Tibet in France said the main purpose of adopting the villages in Tibet is to “express support to the Tibetan people’s freedom and respect for their fundamental human rights.” “As of now, direct link between the places in France and Tibet is not possible due to the Chinese government but nevertheless it sends a strong message of political support,” he added.

To join the adoption campaign, Municipal Councils in the towns and cities have passed a motion “requesting European or UN resolutions, human rights, environment, and Tibetan cultural heritage to be respected in occupied Tibet.” After adopting a Tibetan village, the Municipality places a plaque symbolising the adoption of the Tibetan village at the entrance of their office.

Original article.

Press realse 29.8.2012

Press realse 29.8.2012

Norwegian Tibet Committee

Contact : Dechen Pempa and Chungdak Koren Tel +47 95024443, Oysten Alma +47 99378097

Suppressed Voices of Tibetan Writers To Be Highlighted at Bjørnson Festival of International Literature, Norway

29 August, 2012, Oslo: The suppressed voices of Tibetan writers will be highlighted at the upcoming Bjørnson Festival of International Literature in Molde, Norway.

Read more on festival side.

Running from 29 August – 2 September 2012, the Festival will feature an event focusing on the plight of Tibetan writers and the severe curtailment of freedom of expression currently being seen inside Tibet. The speakers at the event on 1 September will be Chungdak Koren, representing the Norwegian Tibet Committee, and Dechen Pemba, Editor of High Peaks Pure Earth , a website that translates internet writings by Tibetans in Tibet and China. Moderating the event will be Øystein Alme from Voice of Tibet radio.

Chungdak Koren

Dechen Pemba

Since 2008, the website High Peaks Pure Earth has been translating from blogs inside Tibet and China and highlighting articles, poetry and songs, including many by artists who have been detained and sentenced to imprisonment for their cultural expressions. High Peaks Pure Earth serves as a platform in the English language for Tibetan cultural figures. Notable writers translated by High Peaks Pure Earth include Woeser and Jamyang Kyi.

Due to political sensitivities surrounding invitations to writers from Tibet, Dechen Pemba, editor of High Peaks Pure Earth will be speaking on the cultural climate in Tibet and giving examples of how Tibetan voices are being amplified in exile. Copies of a new publication “Yak Horns” by exile Tibetan writer Bhuchung D. Sonam will be on sale at the event, “Yak Horns” is a collection of commentaries on writings from Tibet.

Read more here

The Bjørnson Festival of International Literature in Molde, Norway, is a prestigious annual event and is named after Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is considered, alongside Henrik Ibsen, to be one of the four great Norwegian writers. He was one of the original members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1903.

See full details of the event here.

Press Release 3 August 2012

Geneva (Switzerland) – 3 August 2012


Tibetan intellectuals especially targeted by Chinese authorities
At least 24 Tibetans intellectuals – monks, men and women have been given sentences ranging from few months to life imprisonment for excising their freedom of expression. The Chinese authorities especially targeted Tibetan writers, bloggers, singers, teachers, documentary makers and environmentalist under a crackdown policy since 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

64 Tibetan intellectuals’ details were today submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to Freedom of opinion and Expression for their urgent intervention.

These new generation of young Tibetans born and educated under Chinese Communist rule have edited banned magazines and are tech-savvy bloggers imprisoned for gathering, expressing and sharing information about conditions in Tibet especially after the March 2008 demonstrations across Tibet.

Their writing challenged the official account of the events of 2008 and situation in Tibet in general. The crackdown on Tibetan artists and intellectuals are the harshest since the Cultural Revolution. Strict restrictions have been placed on photocopying and printing documents. A public health worker, 41-year-old Wangdu was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2008 for sending e-mail to the outside world. He worked on an HIV/AIDS prevention project for the Australian Burnet medical research institute in Lhasa.

81-years-old Paljor Norbu, a Tibetan traditional printer master was arrested on 31 October 2008 and sentenced in a secret trial to seven years in prison. His family ran printing business for generations publishing Buddhist texts for monasteries in the Barkhor area in Lhasa. 12 intellectuals were released on fear of custodial death after excessive torture during detention by the Chinese authorities. Due to the severity of the torture some have become physically and mentally dependent on their family members.

The whereabouts of about 37 intellectuals are unknown. There are great concerns for their health. Family members have been intimidated and denied visits to prisons. Four school teachers were expelled and one demoted. A writer and comedian were escaped into exile. On 12 June, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, in her address to the European Parliament on the situation in Tibet said, “Over the last three years, an increasing number of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures have faced criminal charges or been imprisoned. The EU is worried by restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity and freedom of expression in Tibet.”

She said that EU was concerned by the deterioration of the situation in Tibet, as illustrated by the wave of self-immolations and by clashes between the police and the local population since the beginning of the year.

Date: Geneva, 3 August 2012

Tibetan Protest Movement Spreads

The unprecedented self-immolations in Tibet’s capital Lhasa highlight Beijing’s difficulty in getting a handle on the Tibetan situation.

The weekend self-immolations by two young Tibetan men in Lhasa suggest that the protest movement to restore Tibetan rights is gaining momentum internally, much to the chagrin of the Chinese authorities who have portrayed the burnings as isolated incidents fueled by exile groups, according to experts.

The first self-immolation protests in Lhasa appear to be a major setback for the Chinese security forces, who have been on red alert since anti-government riots rocked the Tibet Autonomous Region capital four years ago.

Nearly all the 35 previous self-immolations by Tibetans pushing for an end to Beijing’s rule and the return of the exiled Dalai Lama have been in Tibetan-populated provinces in China, especially in Sichuan, the epicenter of the burnings which have intensified since March 2011.

“The latest self-immolations show that the protests are now widespread and have covered all of the Tibetan region, from the Tibet Autonomous Region to the parts of Tibet that were merged with the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu,” said Mohan Malik, professor of Asian security at the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

“It goes to show that the Chinese are unable to control the situation,” he told RFA. “The self-immolations give them bad publicity, are bad for China’s image as a rising power, and undermine attempts to project China as a great benign power.”

But Malik said he is not optimistic that the spreading self-immolations, triggered by allegedly repressive and discriminatory Chinese policies towards Tibetans, would boost the Tibetan cause.

“This is because the Chinese have dealt with the situation pretty ruthlessly so far and every protest is dealt with by adopting harsher measures,” he said.

Beijing is also unlikely to soften its stance against protesting Tibetans ahead of the once-in-a-decade leadership succession in the ruling Chinese Community Party at the end of the year, Malik said.

“No leader will want to be seen as weak during this transition.”

In fact, Tibetan exile and advocacy groups say Tibetans are already paying the price for the self-immolations that took place on Sunday in front of the Jokhang Temple in central Lhasa–reputedly the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan pilgrims.

The London-based Free Tibet group said it has received reports that Tibetan residents of Lhasa have been arbitrarily detained, and that those from Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture, where one of the self-immolators came from and where the restive Kirti monastery is situated, have been especially targeted.

The owner and staff from the restaurant where the other self -mmolator worked were also arrested on Sunday, Free Tibet said amid reports that Lhasa city has come under even tighter security than usual, with police and paramilitary officers out in full force.


The Chinese authorities have been trying their best to prevent the self-immolations from reaching Lhasa and other major Chinese cities to avoid international embarrassment, said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet expert at Columbia University in New York.

“The self-immolations in Lhasa are a very serious development,” he told RFA.

They signify a growing political movement inside the Tibetan areas and dispel the notion created by the Chinese authorities that Tibetan exile groups are behind the deadly protests, Barnett said.

The wave of self-immolations in the Tibetan-populated Chinese provinces over the last year have been mostly viewed as protests against specific events, such as excessive security operations, particularly crackdowns on Buddhist monasteries, he said.

“Now it looks like many of the immolations, probably the latest ones in Lhasa, hundreds of miles away from other self-immolations, are not prompted by a particular incident but are a general social or political movement that is spreading,” he said.

Barnett said the Chinese authorities probably are also concerned by the memories of previous self-immolation protests by five people in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 2001. The authorities said then the self-immolators belonged to Falun Gong, a banned spiritual group.

“They probably fear that these things would take place in major cities which are embarrassing to China and of course generate more adverse publicity internationally,” he said.


China has ruled Tibet since 1950, and the Chinese government has repeatedly accused exiled Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, of stoking dissent against its rule. The spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The latest self-immolations came as the Tibetan government-in-exile in India waged an international campaign to expose what it called human rights abuses against Tibetans and their eroding freedom.

It cited in a statement at least seven reasons why, it said, Beijing is responsible for the self-immolations in Tibet: its continuing “occupation” of Tibet, political repression, patriotic re-education and demonization of the Dalai Lama, shooting and killing of peaceful Tibetan protesters, economic marginalization and turning Tibetans into “second-class” citizens in their own homeland, cultural assimilation and rejection of the Tibetan language as a medium of instruction, and environmental destruction.

“No matter how the Chinese government attempts to present the cycle of self-immolations to the international community, such explanation will be met with deep skepticism so long as access to Tibetan areas, particularly where self-immolations took place, is denied to impartial observers such as members of the press, and representatives of international bodies such as the United Nations,” said Kalon Dicki Chhoyang, spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration.

Last week, the U.S. State Department in its annual report on the global human rights situation linked the Tibetan self-immolations to “repressive measures” by the Chinese authorities.

It cited as an example the occupation of monasteries by security forces, which “provoked acts of resistance among the Tibetan population, who saw it as a threat to the foundations of Tibet’s distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identity.”

“These acts of resistance, in turn, led to enhanced attempts by [Chinese] authorities to maintain control, thus creating cycles of repression that resulted in increasingly desperate acts by Tibetans, such as a series of self-immolations by Tibetans.”

Radio Free Asia