A Tibetan monk who was beaten by Chinese security forces after he self-immolated last week to protest Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas has died, sources in exile said today.
Lobsang Tsultrim, 20, set himself ablaze on March 16 near a county office in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture in China’s western Sichuan province.
He was beaten, dumped into a security truck, and taken away, still pumping his fist into the air and shouting slogans, witnesses said.
“We did not know at that time where he was taken, but later we learned that he was taken to a hospital in Barkham,” a neighboring county, India-based monk Kanyag Tsering told RFA, citing sources in the region.
“He died in the hospital in Barkham on March 19,” Tsering said.
“Family members demanded his body so that death rituals could be performed in accordance with Tibetan tradition, but Chinese authorities in Barkham cremated his body and handed over only his remains.”
Lobsang Tsultrim’s ashes were placed in a cemetery in Ngaba close to Kirti monastery, the scene of repeated protests against rule by Beijing, Tsering said.
Shops, restaurants close
In a statement released with fellow monk Lobsang Yeshe on Tuesday, Tsering said that Tibetan shops and restaurants in the main town of Ngaba county were closed for three days in a show of solidarity following Lobsang Tsultrim’s protest.
“And on March 19, the full assembly of Kirti monks sat through the night performing scriptural recitations,” Tsering and Yeshe said.
Lobsang Tsultrim was the 22nd to have died among 30 Tibetans who have self-immolated in a wave of protests since February 2009 challenging Beijing’s rule and calling for the return of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The latest self-immolation was on March 17 when a 44-year-old Tibetan farmer named Sonam Thargyal burned himself to death in China’s northwestern Qinghai province, drawing several thousand Tibetans to his funeral.
Call to end burnings
The wave of self-immolations prompted a call two weeks ago from well-known Tibetan blogger Woeser and senior Tibetan religious leader Arjia Rinpoche to end the burnings, saying that Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule should “stay alive to struggle and push forward” toward their goals.
Lobsang Sangay, the head of Tibet’s exile government in Dharamsala, India, said that while he strongly discourages self-immolations, the fault for the protests “lies squarely with [China’s] hardline leaders in Beijing.”
Sangay also accused Beijing of trying over the last half-century to “annihilate the Tibetan people and its culture.”
The Chinese government, however, has blamed the Dalai Lama for the self-immolations, accusing the 76-year-old Buddhist leader and his followers of plotting to create “turmoil” in Tibetan-inhabited areas.
Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.