Tibetan Man Self-Immolates In Front of Police Station in Qinghai

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Kunchok at a hospital in Qinghai's capital Xining, in an undated photo.
Kunchok at a hospital in Qinghai's capital Xining, in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A Tibetan man has burned himself in front of a police station in protest against Chinese rule in Qinghai province, sources said Saturday, in the second Tibetan self-immolation in less than a month.

Kunchok, 42, set himself on fire beside a police station in Gade (in Chinese, Gande) county in the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on Sept. 16 but Tibetans nearby managed to douse the flames and rushed him to a nearby hospital, the sources said.

Information of his burning in Tsang Khor town emerged only on Saturday, apparently due to communication clampdowns usually imposed by Chinese authorities following self-immolation protests, they said.

Kunchok, whose son is a monk and daughter a nun in a local monastery, "self-immolated in protest against Chinese policy in Tibet," a Tibetan with contacts in Gade county told RFA's Tibetan Service. "He did it for the interest of the Tibetans."

"He's now in great pain," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "While he's being treated, he often breaks down in tears over his failure to die in the self-immolation. He regrets not accomplishing what he planned to do."

The source said Kunchok's chances of survival are "slim."

Secret treatment

Another source, also with contacts in the area, said Tibetans who saw Kunchok on fire immediately went to put out the flames and rushed him to an undisclosed hospital in the provincial capital Xining, "where he is being treated secretly."  

"We cannot reveal other details since the relatives fear that those who helped him could land in trouble with the authorities," the source said.

"The family members also fear that Kunchok could be taken away by the authorities if he survives," the source said. "If he does not survive, the authorities would also not return the body to the family.”

A third source said Chinese authorities have beefed up security, installing security cameras at vantage points in Gade county, following the self-immolation.

"It is very difficult to give you more details since we are constantly being watched with cameras installed at different places, including the front and rear of the monasteries in this area," the source said.

Kunchok's burning protest brought the total number of Tibetan self-immolations in China to 133 since the fiery protests began in 2009 challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return from exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Student victim

The last reported self-immolation burning protest was on Sept. 17 — one day after Kunchok's self-immolation — when a 22-year-old Tibetan student burned himself to death in front of a police station in Gansu province in protest against Chinese rule.

Lhamo Tashi set himself on fire and shouted slogans in front of the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture's police station in Tsoe (Hezuo) county before succumbing to his burns on the spot, sources had told RFA on Sept. 21.

Chinese authorities have tightened controls in a bid to check self-immolation protests, arresting and jailing Tibetans linked to the burnings. Some have been jailed for up to 15 years.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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