A Tibetan woman died early Friday, a day after she set herself ablaze in northwest China’s Gansu province in an apparent protest against the demolition of her home by police and officials, sources inside and outside the region said.
Those who witnessed Tashi Kyi, a resident of Ngulra village, Sangkok town, Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county in Kanlho (Gannan) prefecture, self-immolating tried to save her by putting out the fire, said a Tibetan source, who declined to be named.
“She passed away around 3 a.m. Friday,” he told RFA’s Tibetan Service. “Chinese security officials arrived in the morning and took away her body by force.”
On Thursday before the incident occurred, more than 150 Chinese police and government officials had raided a Tibetan house believed to be Kyi’s in Ngulra and completely demolished the structure, the source said.
The London-based advocacy group Free Tibet said the woman set herself on fire after 150 police and officials began demolishing houses in Ngulra with bulldozers.
“A number of the house owners protested, with some physically hanging on to the demolition equipment," Free Tibet said in a statement. "Ngulra residents believe Tashi Kyi’s self-immolation was motivated by witnessing the destruction of her village.”
The statement quoted one unnamed source in the village as saying officials said the houses were being demolished because they did not have valid permits.
A Tibetan source, who lives in Europe but maintains contact with area residents, told RFA that locals confirmed that authorities who raided the houses claimed their owners lacked proper documents.
"This was one of the reasons that Tashi Kyi set herself on fire and died in protest,” he said.
Others told him that China’s overall policy of suppression in Tibet could have been the main reason for Kyi’s actions, he said.
Kyi’s self-immolation brings to 143 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 Lhuboom and Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.