Deadly Freedom: A new generation risks it all
June 11, 2012
On March 3, 2012, 19-year-old Tsering Kyi returned to school from winter holidays, purchased a can of gas, and set herself on fire in a busy market in Machu, in the Gannan province of China. Kyi held still, fist raised, her body ablaze, for several moments before collapsing to the ground.
Kyi was raised in a nomadic Tibetan family, and attended Tibetan school in a town several miles away from where her family lived. According to news reports, she was a dedicated student, simultaneously passionate about her education, and committed to her family and religious practice.
In 2010, Kyi joined students and teachers at her school to protest new Chinese-language textbooks and the government decision to limit Tibetan-language teaching to a single class. The protests only resulted in more government control: Several of Kyi’s teachers, as well as her headmaster, were subsequently fired and replaced. Kyi is reported to have told a close relative in early January of this year that she understood the motivations behind the growing numbers of self-immolations in Tibet and China – that “no one could go on living like this.”