Tibetan Self-Immolator Tenzin Choeying Dies in Indian Hospital

2017-07-24
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Tibetan student Tenzin Choeying is shown in an undated photo.
Tibetan student Tenzin Choeying is shown in an undated photo.
Photo sent by an RFA listener

A Tibetan student who set himself on fire in India on July 14 in a protest calling for Tibetan freedom has died in a hospital in Delhi, sources said.

Tenzin Choeying, 19, passed away at about 4:50 p.m. on July 22, having suffered burns that finally spread to 90 percent of his body, doctors at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital said.

Choeying’s remains were set to be taken to the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government in exile, where they are expected to arrive on July 25, Tibetan activist and relative Tenzin Tsundue told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“There, the Tibetan Youth Congress [TYC] plans to organize his cremation on the morning of the 26th, guided by Tibetan astrological calculations,” Tsundue said.

Choeying, a member of the TYC regional chapter in Varanasi, India, set himself ablaze at around 9:00 a.m. on July 14 at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in a protest calling for freedom for his homeland, Tibetan sources said in earlier reports.

Choeying was especially concerned that Tibetans living under Chinese rule should be allowed to learn their own language, one source said.

'Urgent pleas for help'

“The image of a person engulfed in flames is shocking, often disturbing, to people living in the free world,” Tenzin Dorjee, former director of the Students for a Free Tibet activist group wrote in a recent posting on his Facebook page.

“But instead of being disturbed by [these acts], we must understand them as urgent pleas for help and intervention from a people who have been pushed to the brink of existence by decades of ruthless repression and colonial oppression by China,” Dorjee wrote.

Self-immolation protests by Tibetans living outside Tibetan-populated areas of China are rare, while a total of 150 have now set themselves ablaze in Tibet and Tibetan-populated counties in western China.

Most protests feature demands for Tibetan freedom and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from India, where he has lived in exile since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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