On the night of November 30, Tibetan time, Kunchok Kayab immolated himself in Aba (Tibetan Ngaba) in Western Sichuan. The self-immolations began in Aba back in 2009. Last night's was the 90th since then, and the 28th during the 30 days of November. As is usual, Kunchok Kayab called for the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet before setting himself alight. He was appartently still alive when the security forces put him out and took him away. His current status is not known.
Some observations. I think now that we're up to 90 we can confirm that this is an organized campaign ratgher than a contagious expression of existential despair. It's also accelerating, thouhgh it hasn't yet managhed to stimulate wider large scale protests. There have been protests, some quite substantial, but these have been mainly limited to the funerals of those who died. Neither Tibet or the Tibetan parts of China are in widespread revolt.
I think we can also confirm that, contra Chinese allegations, the Dalai Lama is not behind it though as far as I'm aware he has refused, in a spiritual leader capacity, to tell people to stop. If this was a Dalai endorsed, exile led campaign it would have got much more publicity, something the DL is notoriously good at getting.
We also know that this campaign is being carried on in defiance of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan government in exile, which has called on the self-immolations to stop. The CTA supports the Dalia Lama's middle way policy of seeking genuine autonomy rather than full independence. Many of the self-immolators have called for full independence as well as the return of the DL.
While the self-immolation campaign is obviously internal to Tibet, and mainly seems to be concentrated in Tibetan China - the old Khampa lands of Cham and Amdo - there is apparently some external support from exiled Tibetan intellectuals, expressed through the Voice of America's Tibetan service. This has in turn generated some conflict between the CTA and the VOA's Tibetan service, as detailed here at the Hindu:
The crux of the dispute lies in the increasing discomfort within the government-in-exile over the self-immolations by Tibetans inside Tibet (almost 80 till the beginning of this week) that has triggered a debate in the exile community about the usefulness of continuing with the Dalai Lama’s middle way approach. Most of those who immolated themselves had been demanding complete independence and the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. Those opposed to the Dalai Lama’s policy said Mr. Ngabo irked the government-in-exile by encouraging open discussions on various options for Tibet’s future, including outright independence.
His removal was preceded by several interactions between government-in-exile officials and RFA head Libby Liu.
What seems to be happening is that Tibetans opposed to the CTA policy have been making an end run around them using VOA, apparently with some support in the US congress. I have no idea whether anything broadcast on the Tibetan service is actually encouraging the self-immolations. I am reminded a bit here of the performance of the Hungarian service of Radio Free Europe before and during the 1956 revolt, which encouraged a maximal approach to protest while promising help which the US government as a whole had no intention of providing.