New self-immolation protest in Tibet as Chinese religious policies condemned in human rights report

News of a Tibetan father of two becoming the 122nd person to set himself on fire in protest of the Communist Chinese government’s policies in Tibet came simultaneously with the release of a detailed report by human rights groups on China’s repressive measures to control Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibet Post International and other sources report that the 41-year-old man, identified only by his first name, Sichung, set himself alight Saturday after making offerings to a portrait of the Dalai Lama. He walked about forty steps down a highway in Sichuan province, near where people were gathered for a prayer ceremony, “shouting slogans against Chinese rule.” Sichung died from his burns. Chinese soldiers, who had already gathered to monitor the prayer event, prevented local Tibetans at gunpoint from recovering the body and took it away themselves.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) issued a report Sunday, titled “Chinese Crackdown on Tibetan Buddhism,” in which they called for an end to China’s increasingly onerous policies in Tibet, citing them as the driving cause for the desperate wave of Tibetan self-immolation protests since 2008.

FIDH and ICT summarized their findings in the following five points:

  • A direct correlation between legal measures tightening state control over Tibetan Buddhism and the self-immolations
  • New and more oppressive measures such as a ruling that reincarnations of “living Buddhas” who do not have Chinese government approval are now “illegal or invalid”
  • An intensified anti–Dalai Lama campaign across Tibet as Chinese authorities seek to replace loyalty to the Dalai Lama in Tibetan hearts and minds with allegiance to the Chinese party-state and, in doing so, to undermine Tibetan national identity at its roots
  • A deepening political (“patriotic”) education campaign extended beyond the monasteries to civil society
  • A stepped-up presence of party cadres and government officials in monasteries, and an increased military presence at religious festivals, when they are permitted

Click here to read ICT’s announcement, as well as the full text of the “Chinese Crackdown on Tibetan Buddhism” report.