Man Dies in 53rd Burning Protest

A Tibetan man self-immolates after calling for Tibetan unity against Chinese rule.

Police conduct a security check in Lhasa in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. EST on 2012-10-05

A Tibetan man set himself ablaze and died Thursday in a central Tibetan county in the second self-immolation protest challenging Chinese rule in the past week, according to Tibetan sources.

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 told RFA’s Tibetan service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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.

So far, 53 Tibetans have torched themselves to protest Chinese rule since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009, with most occurring in Tibetan-populated areas of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.

Thursday's burning is the fifth to be reported in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), with other self-immolations in the TAR taking place in the regional capital Lhasa, in Chamdo county's Karma township, and in the town of Damshung, just outside Lhasa.

The latest burning comes after another protester set himself on fire in Qinghai’s Dzatoe county on Saturday, defying calls by a mass gathering of Tibetan exiles in India that had urged an end to the fiery protests, calling the death of even one Tibetan “a great loss” for the Tibetan people.

Gudrub’s self-immolation was confirmed by separate phone calls from Tibet. Sources said he died shortly after he was taken away by Chinese police.

“[The protest] occurred at a marketplace in Kham Driru at around 10:30 a.m.,” one caller said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He was shouting slogans while he burned, and he collapsed in less than a minute. The Chinese police took him away, but he may already have died,” the caller said.

'Unity and courage'

An undated photo of Gudrub. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.
An undated photo of Gudrub. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Gudrub left a final statement, titled “Brotherly Love,” on China’s online network calling on Tibetans to uphold their unity and courage in the face of China’s rule in Tibetan regions.

“If we reflect on the past, we can see nothing but signs of defeat, anger, anguish, and tears,” he wrote.

“I pray that you all have good health and success in the coming new year of the Water Dragon. At the same time, I appeal to you to foster unity and solidarity, and to not lose courage in spite of the defeat and loss that we face.”

Gudrub, who returned to Tibet in 2005 after studying at the exile Sogar School in Dharamsala, India, was a resident of Kali village in the Shagchu subdistrict of Driru county, and was an enthusiastic reader of Tibetan history, sources said.

His protest came just seven days after more than 400 Tibetan exiles from 26 countries meeting in India called for an end to self-immolations by Tibetans challenging Chinese rule.

The meeting held in the hill-town of Dharamsala 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 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 Lobsang Sherab and Dawa Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service and Dan Zhen of the Mandarin service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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