Burning Monk Walks 300 Steps

A Tibetan monk self-immolates and dies in Qinghai province's Pema county.

2012-12-03
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tibet-lobsang-gedun-305.gif Lobsang Gendun engulfed in flames, Dec 3, 2012.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A Tibetan monk set himself ablaze in protest against Beijing's rule and walked an incredible 300 steps with hands folded in prayer before he collapsed and died, according to sources.

Chinese security forces and Tibetan residents tussled over custody of the body of Lobsang Gendun, 29, after he self-immolated at around 7 p.m. local time in Qinghai province's Pema (in Chinese, Banma) county, said the sources, speaking from inside Tibet.

"He set himself on fire at a tri-road crossing in Pema county near the eight petal lotus monument made of mud," one source told RFA's Tibetan service.

"With his body on fire, he walked about 300 steps with hands folded in prayer posture, and raised slogans before he collapsed dead on the ground," the source said.

"At that moment, the Chinese police and PSB [Public Security Bureau officers] arrived at the scene and attempted to take his body away. However, the local Tibetans managed to wrest his body away from the Chinese and brought it to a monastery," explained the source.

Lobsang Gendun was attached to Penak monastery in Pema county, which sources said has been put under strict surveillance following the latest self-immolation.

"Several hundred Chinese police and armed PSB have encircled Pema county center and imposed stringent restrictions on the locals," a Tibetan living in exile in India's Dharamsala hill town said, quoting local contacts.

Burning toll up to 92

The latest burning brings to 92 the total number of Tibetan self-immolations since February 2009, when the fiery protests began.

Meanwhile, a 29-year-old Tibetan man who self-immolated on Friday in the Ngaba  (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province and was whisked away immediately by Chinese security forces is presumed dead, sources said Monday.  

Kunchok Kyap "is now presumed dead as the Chinese authorities on December 1 [Saturday] returned his ashes  to his family, following which monks and laymen of all ages gathered to pray for his departed soul," one source said.

Most of the self-immolation protests have been aimed at highlighting opposition to Chinese rule and seeking the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled to India from Tibet after a failed national revolt against Chinese occupation in 1959.

The Central Tibetan Administration, as the Tibetan government-in-exile in India is called, said the self-immolations underscore "political repression, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation" in Tibet.

Chinese authorities have beefed up security and clamped down on the Internet and other communications in most of the areas where self-immolations have occurred, sources said.

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

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