Third Burning Protest in a Week

A new self-immolation in a Tibetan-populated Chinese province brings the total number of burning protests to 54.

An undated photo of Sangye Gyatso, who self-immolated on Oct. 6, 2012.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A Tibetan man set himself on fire in protest against Chinese rule and died Saturday in a Tibetan populated area in Gansu province, the third self-immolation in a week, according to sources inside Tibet.

Sangay Gyatso, 27, self-immolated in a monastery compound near Tsoe (in Chinese, Hezuo) county, the administrative center of the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southern Gansu.

"He set himself on fire a little after noon near a stupa in the premises of the Dokar monastery," a source inside Tibet told RFA's Tibetan service.

The monastery is situated about 10 km (6.2 miles) from the Tsoe town center.

The sources provided grisly photographs of Sangay Gyatso's charred body but little information of his personal background, only saying his father was identified as Gonpo Dhondup and his mother as Gonpo Tso.

Sangay Gyatso's death is the third from Tibetan self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule over the past week, bringing to 54 the total number of burnings since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.

Most of the burnings have occurred in Tibetan-populated areas of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.

Death note

On Thursday, a man identified as Gudrub, 41, shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and for the return to Tibet of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as he self-immolated in Driru [in Chinese, Biru] county in the Nagchu prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a source said.

He left a written statement calling on the Tibetan people to “foster unity and solidarity” and not “lose courage” in the struggle for Tibetan freedom, according to a former classmate now living in Australia.

On Sept. 29, another protester named Yungdrung, 27, set himself ablaze on a shop-lined street in Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) county in the restive Yulshul (Yushu) prefecture in Qinghai province.

Appeal defied

The three self-immolations came despite an appeal by more than 400 Tibetan exiles from 26 countries to end the burning protests.

The exiles had met in the Indian hill-town of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile, and expressed “grave concern” over the burnings and urged Tibetans living under Chinese rule not to take “drastic actions.”

“Tibet is a thinly populated country, and in the present situation losing even one life is a great loss for the Tibetan people,” said one of 31 recommendations and resolutions adopted by the delegates to the four-day gathering, the largest meeting of its kind in four years.

“Please preserve your lives in the future,” it said.

Similar expressions of concern from exile figures and from the Dalai Lama himself over the burnings have gone largely unheeded in the past.

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


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