A 47-year-old Tibetan nun set herself on fire in China's Sichuan province this week in a protest against Chinese repression in the Himalayan Buddhist region, local sources and acquaintances told Radio Free Asia.
Yeshi Khando, a nun at Chokri Ngagong nunnery in the Kardze ((in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Region, who is believed to have died after Wednesday's incident, is the 138th Tibetan to set herself ablaze since 2009 to stage a self-immolation protest.
"She did it after she completed her circumambulation around the Kardze monastery on Wednesday," a local source told RFA's Tibetan service. "She called for the return of the Dalai Lama and also for his long life. She also called for the freedom for Tibet," the source added.
The fiery protest took place on Wednesday morning at Kubushan, close to Kardze's prison and police station. The sources identified Yeshi Khado as a nun of Chokri Ngagong located in Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county in Kardze Prefecture.
"Not long after she set her body on fire, she fell to the ground and then police arrived and carried her body away in a vehicle," a second source told RFA.
"The relatives approached the authorities for the body but they were not give the custody of her body. Those who witnessed the scene are almost certain that she did not survive the fiery protest," the second source added.
"Be happy and have fun"
A Tibetan monk from Yeshi Khado's monastery in Draggo, who now lives in Australia, told RFA that the nun had visited the monastery on the night before her self-immolation to meet friends.
"She casually told those present that they should be happy and have fun. She also said that they have to do something for Tibet’s cause, including self immolation," he said.
"But no one present suspected her plan," the monk said.
"Yeshi Khado was a very simple and accomplished nun with sound judgment who had completed good practice. She is humble and friendly with others,” he recalled of the nun.
The website of the exiled Central Tibetan Administration reported that Chinese security forces arrived shortly after the incident and seized her body. It said there was uncertainty about whether the nun had died.
“Chinese authorities have summoned (her) family to the police station on 9 April to inform them that she has died. However, they refused to hand over her body to the family members. So, it’s quite difficult to ascertain whether she is dead or alive,” said the report from Dharamsala-based CTA.
Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of an uprising against Chinese rule in March 1959. Beijing has repeatedly accused exiled Tibetans, including the 79-year-old Dalai Lama, of stoking separatist dissent ever since.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008. The self-immolations were committed to show opposition to Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Yangdon Tsering and Lhuboom of RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Paul Eckert.
UPDATED: This report includes new details of the nun's activities on the night before her self immolation.