Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province are pressuring the family of a Tibetan monk who burned himself to death on Monday to protest Chinese rule, ordering them to say the protester had died in a house fire, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said.
Kalsang Wangdu, a monk of the Maretsokha Aryaling monastery, self-immolated at around 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 29 near his monastery in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Nyagrong (Xinlong) county, sources told RFA in an earlier report.
“[While he burned], he called out for Tibet’s complete independence,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Witnesses to Wangdu’s protest gathered to put out the fire and quickly took him to a local hospital for treatment, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“The Nyagrong county hospital could not handle his burns, though, and he passed away on the way to another hospital in [the provincial capital] Chengdu,” RFA’s source said.
“Chinese police began immediately to intimidate the monk’s family, ordering them to tell others that Kalsang Wangu had been burned in a house fire,” the source said, adding that the movements of local Tibetans have been tightly restricted following Wangdu’s protest.
Wangdu’s remains are now in the possession of his family, the source said.
As Wangdu had staged his protest in opposition to the policies and rule of China’s government in Tibetan areas, “the local authorities are making every effort to prevent news of the incident from reaching outside contacts,” a second source said, speaking from exile in India and citing contacts in Kardze.
“They are blocking any access to the family by local people and even by relatives,” the source said.
Wangdu’s self-immolation brings to 144 the total number of burnings by Tibetans living in China since the wave of fiery protests calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama began in 2009.
Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.