Tibetan Burnings Reach 100

New self-immolations are reported in Sichuan and Nepal.

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Nepal police step up security around the self-immolation site near the famous Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Feb. 13, 2013.

Updated at 12.15 a.m. EST on 2013-02-14

A Tibetan man set himself on fire and died in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu on Wednesday in a protest calling for freedom for Tibet, while a separate burning was reported in China’s Sichuan province that brought to 100 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in China.

Speaking to RFA’s Tibetan Service, sources in Kathmandu said the self-immolation took place in the morning next to Nepal’s famous Boudhanath Stupa, a favorite gathering place for Buddhist pilgrims, tourists, and Tibetan residents of the area.

“Before the man set himself ablaze, he drenched himself in kerosene and was seen walking against the flow of traffic of devotees who were circumambulating the stupa in a clockwise direction,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Witnesses heard him identify himself as Dawa and heard him call for the long life of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama and for freedom for Tibet.”

A second source said that Nepalese police put out the fire and took the protester to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu.

Hospital sources identified the man as Dondrub Lotsey, a name they said was given by police but it could not be confirmed.

The burned protester died hours after admission and his body has been handed to the police, said Subash Acharaya, the doctor in charge of the hospital's intensive care unit.

Human Rights in Nepal Organization president Sudip Phatak said that he had been informed that the government would hand over the body to the Tibetan community or to the protester's family.

Self-immolations by Tibetans outside China challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibet have also taken place previously in India and as far away as France.

The number of Tibetan self-immolations in China rose to 100 after it was learned Wednesday that a former monk from Kirti monastery in Sichuan province’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture had self-immolated last week.

Reports also recently emerged that a Tibetan woman, Pasang Lhamo, 62, had self-immolated in Beijing on Sept. 13 after officials in Sichuan's Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) prefecture had refused to allow her to keep her ancestral home.

Her case was not previously included in lists of Tibetan self-immolators.

'A grim milestone'

The former Kirti monk, Lobsang Namgyal, 37, self-immolated in Ngaba at a site close to a police station on Feb. 3, according to exiled Tibetan monks Kanyak Tsering and Lobsang Yeshi in India, citing sources in the region.

“He ran toward the police station, calling out slogans with his body on fire, and died at the scene,” Tsering and Yeshi said.

“Police then cremated his remains and handed them over to his family,” they said.

Namgyal, one of a family of four brothers and four sisters, was detained and harassed last year by police, forcing him to seek shelter with relatives living in a nomadic area, Tsering and Yeshi said, adding that authorities had accused him of not being “a genuine monk.”

“[But] he is reported to have been a well-behaved monk who took his studies very seriously without missing his classes at Kirti monastery,” they said.

Namgyal is believed to be the 100th Tibetan living in areas governed by China to have self-immolated in protest against Beijing’s rule.

“This grim milestone should be a source of shame to the Chinese authorities who are responsible and to the world leaders who have yet to show any leadership in response to the ongoing crisis in Tibet,” Stephanie Brigden, director of the London-based Free Tibet advocacy group, said in a statement.

“China employs brutal repression, propaganda and bribery to no avail: protest and resistance will continue as long as the Tibetan people are denied their freedom,” Brigden said.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Lumbum Tashi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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