Self-Immolator Hospitalized

Tibetan witnesses to the fiery protest shouted slogans of support.

2012-06-21
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Two Tibetans (hidden) self-immolating in Dzatoe township in Qinghai, June 20, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Lobsang Sangay.

A Tibetan protester who set himself ablaze this week in China’s Qinghai province is being treated under guard in a hospital in the provincial capital Xining, according to an exile source.

Ngawang Norphel, 22, was one of two young Tibetans who self-immolated on Wednesday in Dzatoe township, Tridu county, in Qinghai’s Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in a protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.

His companion, Tenzin Khedup, 24, died at the scene.

The two had left behind a letter urging Tibetan national unity and saying they felt unable to make a meaningful contribution to fellow Tibetans under Beijing’s rule.

“After the self-immolation, the monks of Zikar monastery took the body of Tenzin Khedup, who died on the spot, and also Ngawang Norphel, who was badly burned, to the monastery,” said India-based monk and Dzatoe native Lobsang Sangay, citing sources in the region.

Shortly afterward, Chinese police arrived at the monastery in two vehicles to take Ngawang Norphel for medical treatment, Sangay said.

“The monks did not trust the Chinese and demanded to go with him,” he said, adding that two monks were finally allowed to accompany Ngawang Norphel to Xining, where they arrived at around 3:00, with Norphel admitted to hospital about an hour later.

“The two monks who were allowed to travel with him were stopped at the door of the hospital, and are now being guarded by three Chinese police officers,” Sangay said.

Prayers, support

The body of fellow protester Tenzin Khedup is meanwhile being kept at Zikar monastery, Sangay said.

“If the Chinese don’t intervene, they are going to keep his body for three days and then do a final cremation. The monks are conducting prayers day and night.”

Sangye added that Tibetans present at the scene of the two men’s fiery protest shouted slogans in support, calling for freedom for Tibet and for the long life of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

“Some of the protesters were heard shouting ‘We will always be with you,’ and ‘We will fulfill your wishes,’” Sangay said.

The latest self-immolations bring to 41 the number of Tibetans who have set fire to themselves in protest against Chinese rule since the current wave of burnings began in February 2009.

Nearly all the self-immolations have taken place in Tibetan-populated provinces in western China as Tibetans challenge Chinese policies which they say have robbed them of their rights.

The first self-immolation protest in Tibet’s capital Lhasa was reported last month when two young Tibetan men set themselves ablaze in the heavily guarded city.

Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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