DHARAMSHALA, November 21: Powerful new footages of Tibetan nun Palden Choetso’s self-immolation on November 3 in Tawu, eastern Tibet and protests by thousands of Tibetans following her death have been smuggled out of Tibet.
One of the clips shows Palden Choetso, the 35-year-old nun from Geden Choeling Nunnery in Tawu, standing upright near a busy street with her entire body engulfed in flames. In the short clip (viewer discretion is advised), Palden Choetso is seen standing still without showing any signs of physical pain as Tibetans at the background can be heard offering prayers to the Dalai Lama.
A woman dressed in chuba (Tibetan tradition dress) walks up to Palden Choetso’s burning body and throws a khatak (Tibetan white scarf).
In a press statement at the release of the footages, Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet said that Tibetans everywhere are passing through an “extremely difficult time.”
“This footage shows not only the desperation but also the determination of Tibetans to fight for their freedom at any cost,” Dorjee said.
Another clip shows a group of nuns leading a protest following Palden Choetso’s self-immolation. In their cries of pain and agony, the nuns could be heard calling Tibet’s freedom.
In another clip, thousands of Tibetans are seen carrying out a candle light vigil early in the morning of Palden Choetso’s funeral on November 6. The Tibetans carrying candles could be seen waiting in long lines to offer their last respects to Palden Choetso.
In the release, Tawu Lobsang Jinpa, a former political prisoner from Tawu who escaped to India last February noted that the crackdown in Tawu continues with surveillance cameras monitoring every movement of the monks.
“Her ultimate act of nonviolent protest galvanised the entire community to openly and publicly offer their respects and solidarity in spite of China’s military clampdown in the region,” said Jinpa.
Since March this year, 11 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze protesting China’s occupation of Tibet and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
In the release, Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director of SFT, India urged world leaders to “respond to the crisis” in Tibet with multilateral pressure on the Chinese government.
“The Tibetans in these videos have risked everything to have their voices heard. Their actions must be a wakeup call that China’s repression will only stop if the world intervenes now,” said Jigdal.