Graphic image smuggled out of Tibet: November 3rd 2011 - 35 year old Tibetan Nun Palden Choetso set herself on fire protesting against Chinese suppression.
For Immediate Release: November 21st, 2011
Contact: Contact: Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director, +1 646-724-0748
Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director – India, +91 9736 660 451
Kate Woznow, Deputy Director, +1 917-601-0069
Rare Footage of Tibetan Nun's Self-Immolation Smuggled Out of Tibet - 10,000 Tibetans converge in Tawu for funeral, Chinese Forces Seen Entering Monastery
The original internet-quality footage can be viewed/downloaded here (31mb): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6955112/Tawu%20Footage.mp4
A higher resolution copy of the footage can be viewed/downloaded here (564mb): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6955112/Tawu%20Footage.dv
Dharamsala/New York – The most comprehensive footage of protests in Tibet this year, including shocking images of Palden Choetso, a 35-year-old nun from Geden Choeling Nunnery in Tawu, eastern Tibet, who died after lighting herself on fire on November 3, has been obtained from sources in Tibet. One video shows Palden Choetso standing upright as flames engulf her body. Additional footage shows Tibetans’ response to the self-immolation, including nuns protesting and chanting “Freedom to Tibet”; thousands of Tibetans at a candlelight vigil early on the morning of her funeral; and Chinese security forces converging on Nyitso Monastery. In the past eight months, 11 Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in an unprecedented wave of protest against China’s escalating clampdown in eastern Tibet.
"This footage confirms reports that 10,000 Tibetans gathered at Tawu's Nyitso monastery in a mass outpouring of support and prayers for Palden Choetso. Her ultimate act of nonviolent protest galvanized the entire community to openly and publicly offer their respects and solidarity in spite of China’s military clampdown in the region," said Tawu Lobsang Jinpa, a former political prisoner from Tawu who escaped to India last February. "In Tawu, the crackdown continues although many Chinese soldiers are patrolling the town in civilian clothes to stop the world from seeing these images. Surveillance cameras have been installed around the monastery to monitor the monks’ every move."
"This is an extremely difficult time for Tibetans everywhere. This footage shows not only the desperation but also the determination of Tibetans to fight for their freedom at any cost. We fear the situation will continue to escalate and more Tibetan lives will be lost if the Chinese government does not lift its repressive measures and commit to a just and lasting resolution to this spiraling crisis in Tibet," said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.Tibetan sources report that following her self-immolation, Palden Choetso’s body was taken to Nyitso Monastery.
Her funeral was held early in the morning on November 6th. Tawu town is located in Kardze prefecture of the Tibetan province of Kham (annexed by China into Sichuan and Yunnan provinces after 1965), an area long known for actively resisting Chinese rule. Following the widespread protests in Tibet in 2008, Chinese forces have been stationed in and around Tawu town.
“We urge world leaders to respond to the crisis in Tawu immediately with bold multilateral pressure on the Chinese government. The Tibetans in these videos have risked everything to have their voices heard. Their actions must be a wake up call that China’s repression will only stop if the world intervenes now,” said Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director of Students for a Free Tibet India.