Self-Immolation Toll Hits 80

An ex-monk is the latest to burn himself in protest against Chinese rule.
2012-11-23
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A Tibetan self-immolation in Rebgong county in Qinghai province, Nov. 12, 2012.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

The number of Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule has hit the 80 mark with another burning reported in Gansu province, according to sources Friday.

Former monk Tamdin Kyap, 23, burned himself to death in Luchu (in Chinese, Luqu) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture late Thursday, the sources said.

"He set himself on fire at a site close to the Luchu River in Luchu county in protest against Chinese rule and succumbed to his injuries," a source in Tibet told RFA's Tibetan service.

"The local Tibetans managed to take possession of his body and safely brought it to his own house," the source said, obviously referring to previous moves by Chinese authorities to immediately take away the bodies of self-immolators from the burning sites.

Tamdin Kyap had often expressed his desire to follow in the footsteps of his compatriots who had self-immolated in opposition to Chinese rule and demanded the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader who is living in exile in India, sources said.

A source from the region said that whenever someone self-immolated, Tamdin Kyab used to wonder “if he can do the same thing” and say that “there is no worth to life if His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not allowed to return to his homeland,” according to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the official name of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamsala, India.

His death brings the self-immolation tally to 80 so far, with 16 reported this month. Five burnings were reported in one day alone—Nov 7.

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'Global Solidarity Day'

The CTA organized a prayer service in Dharamsala Friday "to mourn the tragic self-immolations in Tibet and express solidarity with all those Tibetans who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet."

It is also organizing a "Global Solidarity Day" on Dec. 10 in conjunction with Human Rights Day to highlight the "dire" situation in Tibet against the backdrop of the burnings.

CTA head Lobsang Sangay, in a statement, called for a coalition of human rights groups to organize and participate in the Global Solidarity Day events.

“Despite our repeated appeals not to take drastic actions, self-immolations continue in Tibet. Therefore, I appeal to the international community and governments to stand for justice by answering the universal aspirations of Tibetans in Tibet: the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans,” he said.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.