At least 20 young Tibetan school students were injured by security forces during demonstrations in northeastern Tibet after carrying out protests against Chinese rule, according to the rights group Free Tibet.
Some of the students were badly injured and were placed in hospital care, with four requiring emergency treatment. At least 1,000 children, with many from the Chabcha Sorig Lobling School, demonstrated in the Tsolho region’s Chabcha County and were “peacefully calling for freedom” for around three hours, the rights group said. Radio Free Asia reported that some of the students were from the Tsolho Medical Institute.
According to the pro-Tibet Phayul publication, many of the students are in their early to middle teens.
“Chinese force[s] started to severely beat the students without provocation, injuring many,” Mogru Tenpa, a representative with Tibet’s Dharamsala, India-based government-in-exile, told Phayul.
There were also reports that Chinese forces fired live rounds during the confrontation, according to Phayul. It is unclear if they were shot in the air or directed at the students.
Now, the Chabcha Sorig Lobling School is “under a complete military lockdown and Chinese security forces have sealed off the area,” Free Tibet said. Parents have been denied entry and contact with students inside the school, while communication lines were taken offline—a common practice employed by Chinese authorities during self-immolations or times of unrest in Tibetan areas.
Free Tibet believes that the protests were triggered after a book published by the Chinese regime that denounced the recent spate of self-immolations was handed to the students.
According to Radio Free Asia, the book also condemned the study of the “Tibetan language as devoid of relevance,” a source was quoted as saying. Many Tibetans have accused the Chinese government of waging a campaign to dissolve the Tibetan language, culture, and religion.
“The books were distributed in the area’s schools. So the medical students of Tsolho Medical Institute burned all the books and called for equality among nationalities and freedom to study the Tibetan language,” the source, who was not named, told the broadcaster.
At the same time, there were reports that four more Tibetans set themselves on fire Sunday and Monday in different parts of the country.
Teenage nun Sangay Dolmas in Rebkong in Qinghai Province set herself on fire Sunday, it was reported. Kunchok Tsering, 18, of Gansu Province, 20-year-old former monk Wang Gyal in Sichuan Province, and 45-year-old Gonpo Tsering of Gansu Province also completely burned themselves on Monday.
There have been at least 85 Tibetan self-immolations since February 2009 and 21 of the immolations took place this month, according to RFA.
Mary Beth Markey, the president of the International Campaign for Tibet rights group, said the Chinese regime’s crackdown in Tibetan areas has only aggravated the situation.
“The Tibetans who are self-immolating–now in more rapid succession–have clearly not been dissuaded by the security buildup or other means of official intimidation,” Markey said in a statement on Saturday.
“Nonetheless, the authorities seem to be betting that further oppression will cower or exhaust the will of future self-immolators.”
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