Tashi Rabten, 33, self-immolated in Machu in the Gansu province. Onlookers reported that during his protest he called out for “freedom for Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama” and that he also called out for the release of the Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima who is detained in China. Police took him away immediately and later questioned his family, taking his wife and 15-year-old daughter into custody. Radio Free Asia reports that the police demanded that his family “say that the self-immolation had no connection with Chinese government policies, and had been carried out instead because of problems at home”. There is no news about his current condition or whereabouts. Tashi Rabten was a father of three.
The Tibet Post International has received a letter written in Chinese by Tashi Rabten before his protest. The full text, as published by TPI, is reproduced below:
The letter, dated December 08, 2016, was received by the Tibet Post International on the next day of his self-immolation protest, and translated by Phurbu Dolma, staff writer of TPI from Chinese into English. The full letter is below:
I am a Tibetan, so I am not a Chinese. As a Tibetan with the Chinese passport, I am willing to cry for the human rights and democracy for 1.3 billion of people. However, as an authentic Tibetan, I should cry for our territory and freedom even more!
Today, I will leave this world. But I believe that I am moving closer to our Tibetan belief. We are destined to use this approach to pursue and obtain our already-lost and fading-away homeland. We are destined to use self-immolation to call back our Tibetan belief and territory that has been isolated.
We are willing to follow our His Holiness [the Dalai Lama]. We only choose peaceful ways to solve our problem with the Chinese government. We Tibetans do not want the Massacre and inhuman invasion war by China’s People’s Liberation Army back in 1958 to happen again. We don’t want to be called as “riot” (beating, smashing, and robbery) as in 2008.
Other than Chinese within China, almost nobody in the world believes that our Tibetans are having a “riot”. Because most Chinese within China are brainwashed. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, they are always in the status of being brainwashed, singing the Chinese Communist Party’s “red songs”, envisioning the great leader is progressing, constructing the “Four Modernity”.
In that period of 2008, who were really rioting? It was the Armed Police and the Chinese Army dispatched by the Chinese government that were really launching a ‘beating, smashing, robbery, killing’ campaign.
In the past, Chinese swore the Japanese “Three Alls” policy (a colonial control measure). It might be purely conjecture, or it might have actually taken place. I don’t know if it was real or not. In fact, as a Tibetan, I don’t have hatred towards the Japanese. I like Japanese and respect Japanese. However, the Chinese army really executed a policy as such in the Tibetan region, especially in Tibetan monasteries.
They were recklessly beating us Tibetans, beating our renowned monks, smashing our Buddhist statues in the monasteries, and robbing the artifacts in the monasteries. They murdered nuns, monks, and young students with guns. They also murdered many pilgrims to Lhasa with guns. The 1958 policy of burning down the monastery, has been replaced by tanks and bulldozers. Nowadays, in many places in our Tibetan region, many monasteries and monk’s residences have been crushed into ruins by tanks and bulldozers from the Chinese Armed Police and the Chinese Army.
In all, my words are hereby sent to you. Don’t think I am joking. I am ernest. I want people understand that we Tibetans actually are not afraid of death. Yet, for the peaceful resolution, I can only use self-immolation to warn people. We Tibetans need to be protected and taken care of. We need to be on our own land, living like real people. Long live the Tibetans. Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama!
08/12/2016, at Machu, by the Firing Bird