Police in western China have beaten a Tibetan man to death during clashes prompted by the self-immolation of a monk and former monk, according to Radio Free Asia.
“Nearly 500 Tibetans in China’s Qinghai province took to the streets Tuesday to protest what they called police brutality,” RFA reports, “as tensions gripped neighboring Sichuan province, where one of two Tibetans who self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule a day earlier died.”
Residents of Rebgong (Tongren, in Chinese) county in Qinghai province’s Malho prefecture marched on the local Public Security Bureau office to highlight an attack by police on Monday night on a group of Tibetans traveling by car. Witnesses to the Monday assault described the Chinese police who attacked the Tibetans as “drunk,” local sources told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“On Aug. 13, local police, who appeared to be drunk, stopped four Tibetans traveling in their vehicle and harshly questioned them,” sources said. “The harassment reached a point where the police and the Tibetans clashed, and the Tibetans were severely beaten.”
The Tibetans injured in the beating were identified as Kelsang, Konchog Nyima, Shawo Tsering, and Konchog Norbu, with Shawo Tsering described as the most badly hurt in the group.
The violence followed the self-immolation of a monk and former monk in Aba town in Sichuan province, sparking protests that authorities quelled by beating demonstrators with batons, said Free Tibet and the International Campaign for Tibet.
At least 17cases of self-immolation have featured monks or former monks from Kirti, according to the ICT.
The frequency of self-immolations is “a reflection of the ever-deepening frustration and despair” that Tibetans feel about prospects for reform and the protection for Tibetan culture, religion and language, says Phelim Kine, senior Asia researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch.
“We don’t see any inkling of such changes in the short to medium term, instead we see a hardening of position by the Chinese government,” he said. “This is an unfortunate trend that will continue till we head into the leadership transition.”
“Forty-nine Tibetans in total have self-immolated since the current wave of fiery protests began in February 2009, with nearly all of the protests taking place in Tibetan-populated provinces in western China,” RFA reports:
Most of them protested against Chinese rule and called for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who is living in exile in Dharamsala.
Last week, three Tibetans died in self-immolation protests — two in Ngaba and one in the southern part of Kanlho (Gannan, in Chinese) prefecture in Gansu province.
Tibetan groups say the wave of self-immolation protests will continue until the underlying human rights and other problems in the Tibetan-populated areas are addressed by the Chinese authorities.
Chinese authorities however have labeled the self-immolators as terrorists, outcasts, criminals, and mentally ill people and have blamed the Dalai Lama for encouraging the burnings.
The International Campaign for Tibet is a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.