Woman Strips, Self-Immolates

The Tibetan mother-of-two's death comes a day after a monk burned himself in a protest against Chinese rule.
2012-08-07
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Exiled Tibetans participate in a candle light vigil near India's Dharamsala hill town over the death of a Tibetan monk from self-immolation, July 17, 2012.
AFP

Updated at 12:30 p.m. EST on 2012-08-07

A Tibetan woman took off her clothes and self-immolated in a monastery's grounds Tuesday to protest Chinese rule in Gansu province in China's northwest region, sources inside Tibet said.

Dolkar Tso, a 26-year-old mother of two, died after setting herself on fire near a stupa at the Tso monastery in the southern part of Kanlho (Gannan, in Chinese) prefecture at around 2.30 p.m. local time, the sources said

The incident was witnessed by other Tibetans circumambulating the monastery, and as they attempted to save her she told them to let her die.

"She took off her clothes and burned herself naked," one source inside Tibet said, citing eyewitnesses who heard her shout slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

"She survived initially when the Tibetans put out the fire, and when the local monks arrived she called on them to hit her on the head with a stone and kill her so that the Chinese would not take her into custody alive," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When the monks took Dolkar Tso to the monastery, her family members arrived and insisted they take her home, but she died on the way, the sources said.

She was a resident of Tsoe Tasa village in the Kanlho area.

“Despite the best efforts of the Chinese government, Tibetan protests continue and Tibetans continue to share information with the world about them," said London-based advocacy group Free Tibet's director Stephanie Brigden.

"The Tibet Spring will not go away simply because the world chooses to look away. It is time for leaders around the world to break the silence and speak out for Tibetan freedom,” she said.

Religious significance

Free Tibet said the Tso monastery in Tso city is of great religious significance to Tibetan Buddhists. People from the area participated in large-scale protests against Chinese rule in 2008.

Dolkar Tso's self-immolation was the 46th by Tibetans challenging Beijing’s rule since the current wave of fiery protests began in February 2009, with nearly all of the protests taking place in Tibetan-populated provinces in western China.

A day earlier, a Tibetan monk at the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan prefecture burned himself while protesting Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama. He is believed to have been taken away by Chinese security forces.

Lobsang Tsultrim, a 21-year-old monk from Kirti Monastery, set himself on fire in Ngaba's main street, which the local people have re-named "Martyrs Street" due to the large number of Tibetans who have self-immolated there.

"Following his protest, local authorities drove him to the county hospital. He was removed after 30 minutes and his current well-being and whereabouts are unknown," Free Tibet said.

Lobsang Tsultrim, a keen basketball player, was beaten by Chinese forces for taking part in demonstrations against Chinese rule in 2008, it said.

Underlying problems

Tibetan groups say the wave of self-immolation protests will continue until the underlying problems in the Tibetan-populated areas are addressed by the Chinese authorities.

Beijing’s increased restrictions in the wake of the burnings have only served to increase the sense of injustice and discrimination felt by Tibetans under Chinese rule, said U.S.-based International Campaign for Tibet's vice-president Bhuchung Tsering.

“As long as Tibetans continue to be denied the opportunity to live a life of equality, respect, and dignity, it is clear that they will undertake actions to convey their feelings,” he told a recent congressional hearing.

Chinese authorities however have labeled the self-immolators as terrorists, outcasts, criminals, and mentally ill people, and have blamed the Dalai Lama for encouraging the burnings.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Paramesawaran Ponnudurai.