Burned Monk Refuses Treatment

Tibetan protester had called for Tibetan unity as he set himself on fire.

Dawa-Tsering-305.jpg Dawa Tsering in an undated photo.
Photo appears courtesy of International Campaign for Tibet

A Tibetan monk badly burned last month in a self-immolation in China’s Sichuan province has refused a Chinese offer of medical help, saying that he regrets not having died in his protest, according to a Tibetan source.

Dawa Tsering, 31, set himself ablaze on Oct. 25 during an annual gathering at a monastery in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture after calling on Tibetans to unite against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas, witnesses said. 

Eleven self-immolation protests, in which at least six are believed to have died, have taken place in Tibetan-populated areas in China so far this year, a trend which Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says highlights the “cultural genocide” facing Tibetans.   

Tsering was rushed to a Kardze hospital in a monastery vehicle after the flames were extinguished by fellow monks.  But he refused medical treatment and was brought back to his monastery with severe burns and wrapped in bandages.

“On Nov. 7, three government officials accompanied by a doctor visited Dawa Tsering’s room in the Kardze monastery,” a Kardze monk told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“All were dressed like Chinese,” he said.

“Only the doctor spoke. He tried to convince Dawa Tsering to go to a major hospital for treatment free of charge, but the injured monk did not respond to the offer."

"In fact, he refused to utter even a word,” the monk said.

Kardze monastery has assigned a group of eight monks to provide care for Dawa Tsering, and his brother-in-law, a medical professional, is also looking after him, the monk said.

“He does not want to receive any treatment from a Chinese hospital.”

“[In fact], Dawa Tsering regrets not having died in the act of burning in his cause,” he said.


'Cultural genocide'

The wave of self-immolations comes amid a crackdown on Tibetan monasteries and harassment of monks by Chinese authorities.

Tibetans face "cultural genocide" under hardline Chinese rule, which is fueling the self-immolations, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama told reporters in Tokyo on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Chinese communist propaganda creates a very rosy picture. But actually, including many Chinese from mainland China who visit Tibet, they all have the impression things are terrible," the Dalai Lama said.

"Some kind of policy, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," the 76-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader said.

Witnesses to the self-immolations say that Chinese police have at times beaten the burning protesters and others nearby instead of providing assistance.

China has accused the Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland for India in 1959, of instigating the burnings as a form of "terrorism in disguise."

Tensions in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in Tibetan-populated areas in China's provinces have not subsided since anti-China riots swept through the Tibetan Plateau in March 2008.

On Monday, the Dalai Lama flew from Japan to Mongolia for a religious trip, triggering protests from China.

Beijing said Tuesday it had lodged an official protest against the visit, a day after Tibet's exiled spiritual leader arrived in the landlocked nation.

"China is always against any country providing a stage for the Dalai Lama's anti-China splittist activities in any form," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

Reported by RFA’s Kham Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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