Kirti Monk Self-Immolates, Dies

A 20-year-old monk becomes the 31st Tibetan in China to self-immolate in protest against Beijing's rule.

A Tibetan monk outside the Kirti monastery in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province, March 11, 2012.

A Tibetan monk from a restive monastery in China's Sichuan province set himself on fire and died Wednesday in protest against Chinese rule, exile sources said, quoting local contacts.

Twenty-year-old Lobsang Sherab shouted slogans to highlight Beijing's "discriminatory" policies on Tibetans as he self-immolated in Cha township in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, India-based exiled Tibetan monk Kanyag Tsering told RFA.    

"The self-immolation occurred at 7.10 p.m. along the main road in the township," he said. "The exact words he uttered as he burned were not immediately clear, but what was clear was that Sherab was protesting against the ruthless policies imposed by the Chinese authorities."

"He died on the spot," Tsering said. "The Tibetans who were in the area tried to take his body away, but the Chinese security forces intervened, prevented them from doing so, and took the body, much to the anger of the Tibetans."

"The Chinese security forces also ordered shops at the township to close following the self-immolation, apparently as a precautionary move," Tsering said.


Sherab was from the Kirti monastery in Ngaba, from which hundreds of monks were taken away by Chinese security forces after a monk from the institution self-immolated in March last year, triggering an unstoppable wave of burning protests.

"Sherab went back to his Raruwa village in Ngaba county two days earlier" apparently to prepare himself for the self-immolation, Tsering said.

Sherab, who left behind his parents and three siblings, is the 31st Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009 as Tibetans stepped up their protests against Beijing's rule and called for the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The protests resulted in a Chinese security clampdown in Sichuan and the other Tibetan-populated provinces of Qinghai and Ganzi, as well as in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Sherab, whose father's name was Sodon and mother's name was Nyima, first joined the Genden Tenpel Ling monastery, a small institution with 31 monks, when he was nine years old before graduating to the mammoth Kirti monastery.


Meanwhile, a Tibetan died on Wednesday two days after setting himself on fire in India—the second fatal self-immolation protest by a Tibetan living outside China.

"We do recognize that his sacrifice will help in boosting the morale of other Tibetans and contribute in repelling the dark clouds of Chinese occupation over Tibet,” said Dhondup Lhadar, the vice-president of the Tibetan Youth Congress

The group said a grand funeral "deserving of a martyr" is being planned for Jamphel Yeshi in the Tibetan exiled community's headquarters of Dharamsala, the northern Indian hilltown where Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in living in exile.

“We have decided to take his body to Dharamsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama and headquarters of the Tibetan exile government. All the necessary approval was obtained from the authorities for us to move his body, and we are making all the necessary arrangements,” Lhadar said.

Jamphel Yeshi poured fuel over himself, set himself ablaze, and ran screaming down a road engulfed in flames in India's capital New Delhi on Monday in protest against a visit to India by China's President Hu Jintao.

Hu is in New Delhi for the BRICS summit that includes India, Russia, Brazil, and South Africa.

Photos showing Yeshi running in flames past other protesters have been carried by newspapers and websites across the world, and Tibetans in the Indian capital have vowed to step up protests and highlight the Tibetan cause during the summit on Thursday.

Another Tibetan, Thupten Ngodup, had self-immolated and died in India in 1998.

Yeshi lived in the Majnu Ka Tila refugee enclave in the north of the city, where thousands of Tibetan exiles have been based for decades after fleeing from China.


The wave of self-immolations had prompted a call recently from well-known Tibetan blogger Woeser and senior Tibetan religious leader Arjia Rinpoche to end the fiery protests, saying that Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule should instead "stay alive to struggle and push forward" their goals.

Lobsang Sangay, the head of Tibet's exile government in Dharamsala, said that while he strongly discouraged self-immolations, the "fault lies squarely with the hardline leaders in Beijing."

He accused Beijing of attempting over the last half-century "to annihilate the Tibetan people and its culture."

The Chinese government however blamed the Dalai Lama for the self-immolations, accusing the 76-year-old Buddhist leader and his followers of plotting to create "turmoil" in Tibetan-inhabited areas.

Reported by Yangdon Demo and Ugyen Tenzin. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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Mar 28, 2012 09:02 AM