Latest Tibetan Self-Immolation Protester Dies

2014-02-17
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Chinese security forces deployed at Lobsang Dorje's self-immolation site, Feb. 13, 2014.
Photo courtesy of Central Tibetan Administration.

A former Tibetan monk who self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule near the restive Kirti monastery in Sichuan province last week has died and his remains have been cremated in secret by the authorities, according to sources.

Lobsang Dorje, 25, died at a hospital on Sunday, three days after he was taken away by Chinese security forces as he set himself on fire near the monastery in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, an exiled monk with contacts in the region said at the weekend.

The family of Dorje, who was the second Tibetan to self-immolate and die this year, had "requested the authorities to hand over his body but they refused and instead gave the family the ashes, saying that his remains have already been cremated," according to Kanyag Tsering, a Tibetan monk at the Kirti exile monastery in India's Dharamsala hill town, where the Dalai Lama lives.

"Family members and relatives of the deceased are performing the last rites," he said.

"In solidarity with the deceased, who is considered a martyr, the people of Ngaba have decided to close their shops and restaurants for three days and make offerings on his behalf to the monasteries and make donations to his family," Tsering said.

'Monlam' Festival

Sources said that Chinese security forces were deployed across Ngaba county in anticipation of any protest following Dorje's self-immolation, which coincided with the holding of the Kirti monastery "Cham dance," a sacred ritual.

Tibetans are currently observing "Monlam," or The Great Prayer Festival, with prayers, ritual dances and other activities. It is one of the most important festivals in Tibetan Buddhism.

"At this time of the year, the Great Monlam Prayer is being held in various monasteries in the Ngaba area, and the Chinese police, disguising as laymen, are spying on the Tibetans," Tsering said. "Moreover, armed policemen are conspicuously deployed all over Ngaba."

Ngaba has been among the key venues of Tibetan self-immolation protests. The main road in Ngaba county was renamed in 2012 by Tibetans as "Heroes Street" after it became a regular venue for the burnings.

Dorje, from the Chukle Gongma nomadic area in Cha Ruwa in Ngaba prefecture, set himself on fire in the same street as Kirti monk Tapey, who in February 2009 was the first Tibetan in Tibet to self-immolate, the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group, said in a report.

Dorje's burning was the 127th since the self-immolation protests began five years ago challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return from exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.