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Chinese Netizens Speak Out on Tibetan Self-Immolations despite Censorship

November 21, 2012

According to reports, on November 20, 2012, Tsering Dhundup, a Tibetan activist in his thirties and a father of three, died after setting himself on fire to protest Chinese mining activities and policies. His self-immolation is the 78th* in Tibet since February 2009, and his death, following that of Wangchen Norbu a day earlier, marks the 65th of such deaths. As the tragic protests by Tibetans against Chinese policies intensify, the Chinese authorities have failed to take effective measures to address the crisis, and continue to insist that this is China’s internal affair.

In recent weeks, Chinese netizens have helped spread reports of Tibetan self-immolations online and expressed their concerns by posting comments on Twitter. They have done so despite intensified government crackdowns and Internet censorship in the lead up to and during the 18th Party Congress. Below are some select posts:

陈云飞@chen_yunfei RT @sfchoi8964

自焚藏人久毛吉留下遗书要求民族平等 htt…久毛吉高呼“允许达赖喇嘛返回西藏”和“语言自由”等口号后点火自焚,人们从她身上发现一张纸条,上面有藏文和中文书写“民族平等,新任领导人习近平必须同达赖喇嘛尊者会面。”纸条下方则写有“和平”两字。

[Translation] Chen Yunfei‏@chen_yunfei RT @sfchoi8964

One self-immolated Tibetan Chagmo Kyi left a suicide note calling for ethnic equality. . . She set herself on fire after shouting these slogans: "Allow Dalai Lama to return to Tibet" and "Linguistic freedom.” People found a note on her body with writing in both Tibetan and Chinese that said: “All ethnicities are equal; the new leader Xi Jinping must meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama." “Peace” is written on the bottom of the note.

8:04 AM - 21 Nov 12


北风(温云超) ‏@wenyunchao


[Translation] Bei Feng(Wen Yunchao温云超) ‏@wenyunchao: On Weibo, the way public intellectuals are supporting people selectively is despicable. They call for fair judicial treatment for Bo Xilai. They cheer judicial fairness when the abused Wenzhou child Yan Yanhong was exempted from criminal penalties. But they never think of in their mind, Tan Zuoren, Cao Haibo, Starship Troopers, etc., let alone those self-immolated Tibetans. There is no difference between displaying conscience selectively and doing evil things.

3:19 AM - 18 Nov 12




[Translation]  Jiang Tianyong@jtyong

Some say the world is numb and indifferent toward Tibetans’ self-immolation. I deeply agree. Especially Han Chinese, it seems as if it is not relevant to them, or they are intentionally avoiding the problem. Of course, I know there are many grand reasons. I do not want to say who is right or wrong between Han Chinese and Tibetans. I only hope that Han Chinese and other friends, alone or in groups of two or three, will visit Tibetan areas to see the natural environment there, and then put themselves there.

8:55 PM - 13 Nov 12


 thisiswiki ‏@thisiswiki @kungat @jajia


[Translation] thisiswiki ‏@thisiswiki@kungat @jajia

Communist Party of China must understand that the way to prevent Tibetans from self-immolation is to stop the colonial oppressive rule in Tibet.  In another words, self-immolation will not end as long as [Tibet] is not liberated.

4:38 PM - 13 Nov 12



逝去的魂靈,你慢些走,哀慟的人啊,你慢些走。你們慢些走,看著我們的卑鄙和怯懦怎麼粉碎,來償還你們的眼淚。@dreamlhasa 11月10号在…录续(古人叫下阿木去呼)一位叫贡保才让的自焚抗议对中共的不满而当场死亡。…才19岁,也上过合作藏族中学…录续…甘南藏族自治州合作下巴沟乡

[Translation] plutto@pppan777

The departing soul, walk slowly; those who mourn, walk slowly. Walk slowly, watch how our baseness and cowardiceare crushed, to repay your tears. @dreamlhasa November 10, at Luxu (called Xiaamuquhu by the ancients), to protest the Communist Party of China, Gonpo Tsering set himself alight and died on the spot. … He was only 19 years old, he had attended Hezuo Tibetan Middle School…Luxu….Xiabagou Village of  Tsoe (Chinese: Hezuo) in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.
9:57 AM - 11 Nov 12


Zhang Min@ZhMinYH

愿更多人关注藏民处境和意愿。终结一党专制腐朽制度和民族压迫。RT @epv8ut 桑傑嘉 西藏境內消息:11月12日晚7點18分,西藏安多熱貢(同仁)縣多哇鄉藏人娘吉本在鄉政府自焚身亡。現年20歲…牺牲后遺體被民眾送到火葬台火化,兩三千民眾參加了火葬儀式…僧俗民眾進行了祈福。

[Translation] Zhang Min@ZhMinYH

I hope more people will pay attention to the Tibetan’s situation and their wishes. Put an end to the authoritarian and decrepit one-party system and the oppression of ethnic minorities. RT @ epv8ut Sang Jiejia news from Tibet: At 7:18 p.m., November 12, Nyangchag Bum from Dowa township in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Qinhai Province, died after setting himself on fire at the township government. He was 20 years old. After he died, his body was carried by people to a cremation place, where two to three thousand people attended the cremation. Monks and the public prayed for him.

12:35 PM - 12 Nov 12


Dajun Zhang@ZhangDajun


[Translation] Dajun Zhang@ZhangDajun

The Tibetans’ self-immolations are a difficult problem for the Chinese Communist regime. Because self-immolation is not an aggressive act, the regime cannot carry out a large-scale retaliation against the Tibetan people. The morality in Tibetans who self-immolated is this: they have sacrificed themselves to gain the greatest possible results from resistance, mobilization of Tibetan people, and mobilization of the international community. The Tibetans who have sacrificed their own lives are great! Who has the moral authority to stop them?

9:30 AM - 10 Nov 12 from Arlington, VA



支持!珍惜生命!和平、理性地抗争! RT @xiexue3  degewa 我们请求,从现在开始,不要再自焚。每一个藏人都要珍惜生命...我们呼吁,藏地的僧侣、长老、知识分子和民众,请守护你们的同修、信徒、乡亲和家人,避免再发生自焚。...我们相信,藏人的未来,唯有靠藏人自己!

[Translation] Lawyer Jin Guanghong@jguanghong 

Support! Treasure life! Peaceful and rational resistance! RT @ xiexue3 degewa: We request, from now on, do not self-immolate. Every Tibetan must cherish her life. We appeal to all Tibetan monks, elders, intellectuals, and the general public, to guard your fellow practitioners, worshippers, relatives and their families, to prevent further the self-immolations. We believe that the future of the Tibetan people can rely only on the Tibetans themselves!

2:05 PM - 13 Nov 12


Chinese authorities must address the root causes of these tragic protests: development and social control policies in Tibet that violate the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. Despite reported behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts undertaken by various governments, the escalation of these horrific acts makes it imperative for the international community to take more transparent and effective action now.

* Tabulation by the International Campaign for Tibet.

For more information on Tibetan self-immolations, see: