15 August 2012
This is a crucial moment. Please help us to double support for Stand Up for Tibet.
One year ago 29-year old monk Tsewang Norbu set light to himself and died in Tawu, eastern Tibet. Although not the first self-immolation in Tibet – Tapey, in February 2009 was followed two years later by Phuntsok in March 2011 -this was our first realization that those fiery protests were not isolated incidents, and that what we were witnessing unfold in Tibet was a tragedy of enormous proportions.
Unbelievably, there have now been almost 50 confirmed self-immolations in Tibet; a staggering 36 since 1 January 2012 and five in the past 10 days alone. At least 39 of all these protestors have died from their burns.
Something different is happening in Tibet. Over 60 years of occupation, periods of Tibetan resistance have been crushed by China’s military forces. But trying to stop individuals who are determined to set light to themselves must be akin to trying to stop grains of sand running through their fingers. And more than that, China is also now discovering that its military might is unable to prevent mass gatherings of Tibetans, whether they are praying for those self-immolating or engaging in more challenging acts of protest.
On Monday several Tibetans were brutally beaten, one possibly fatally, after a protest erupted in the immediate aftermath of the twin self-immolations by Tashi and Lungtok in Ngaba, Amdo. And as I write this message, a mass demonstration is taking place in Rebkong, Amdo, with several hundred Tibetans gathered outside the police station to protest against the unprovoked beating of four Tibetans by drunken police.
I’m writing to ask that you continue to stand with Tibet. Although we feel heartbroken by the news of each passing self-immolation, the Tibetan people need our support now more than ever. We mustn’t lose focus. Now is the time to double our efforts, in raising awareness and pressing for political action, because we’re making an impact.
Tibetans in Tibet are not alone. They have your support and your pledge to Stand Up for Tibet. And the Tibet movement has made important progress towards our main objectives.
* Tibet Groups around the world have delivered your pledge and worked hard to press governments to publicly express concern. Many of the world’s most influential governments have spoken out, including at sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In early September, as the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council prepare to meet, we’ll be calling for an International Advocacy Day and will send you more details soon.
* Our demand for governments to act together for Tibet is gradually gaining traction. We were delighted to see that US Congressmen Frank Wolf and James McGovern wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week, calling for “stronger, more coordinated, visible international diplomatic steps with regard to the People’s Republic of China’s policies and practices towards Tibetans.” Read the full letter here.
* A number of key governments have strongly pressed China allow access to the region, including the European Union and Australia. China has agreed that the UN Human Rights Commissioner can visit Tibet as part of a wider visit to China, but no dates have been agreed. Online advocacy group Avaaz joined this campaign and nearly 700,000 people signed an appeal for governments to demand urgent access to Tibet.
* Tibet Groups have generated significant media coverage of the self-immolations, and made a huge effort to raise public awareness, staging coordinated actions and protests around the globe on a regular basis over the last 12 months.
On this anniversary of Tsewang Norbu’s self-immolation, I am writing to ask each and every one of you to undertake to get one more person to sign the Stand Up for Tibet pledge, and help us to double the support for Tibetans in Tibet to more than 100,000 people. Let’s respond to this rapid increase in self-immolations in Tibet with a huge increase in those pledging to take action, to help Tibetans realise their dreams for freedom and for the return of His Holiness to Tibet.
Many, many thanks for your support,
Executive Director, International Tibet Network Secretariat
The second image shows protests in Rebkong, Tibet on 14 August 2012. The banner reads “The atrocity committed by the Administration’s People’s Armed Police to the masses”
- Two Tibetans self-immolate in China protest (edition.cnn.com)