A Tibetan woman set herself on fire and died in Sichuan province on Monday in the second self-immolation protest this month against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas of China, sources said.
Tsepe, 20, set herself ablaze at around 2:00 p.m. local time in Meruma town in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, local sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Today, a 20-year-old Tibetan woman self-immolated in protest against China’s repressive policies,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Soon afterward, the police arrived and took her body away,” the source said.
Sources gave the woman’s name as Tsepe and described her as a resident of Meruma town’s Unit No. 4.
“Her father’s name is Chidor Rinchen, and her mother’s name is Chenpa,” one source said.
Reached for comment, a duty officer at a local police station denied knowledge of the incident, adding, “You should ask the higher authorities,” before hanging up the phone.
Separately, a Tibetan monk living in India said Tsepe was known for her “good character and personal integrity,” citing contacts in Ngaba.
“Tsepe had been living with her parents as a nomad and had not been to school since she was young,” the monk, Kanyak Tsering, said.
“Police took her parents and brother Yime away for questioning shortly after her protest, but it is not known if they will be detained,” he said.
In addition to her brother Yime, Tsepe leaves behind five other siblings, sources said.
Tsepe’s burning brings to 135 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese rule since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, and is the second this month.
The last Tibetan self-immolation occurred on Dec. 16 in Gansu province when Sangye Khar, 33, set himself ablaze in front of a police station in Amchok township in Sangchu (Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Khar died “in protest against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Chinese authorities have tightened controls in a bid to check self-immolation protests, arresting and jailing Tibetans linked to the burnings.
Some have been imprisoned for up to 15 years.
“Tibetans continue to set themselves alight in protest against China’s policies and rule in Tibet,” Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet, said in a statement on Monday.
“The ongoing crisis in Tibet will not be resolved until the world’s leaders put pressure on China to recognize Tibetans’ desire for freedom instead of criminalizing it,” she said.
Reported by Yangdon Demo, Lobsang Choephel, and Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.