Tibetan Nun Self-Immolator Identified

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

A previously unnamed Tibetan nun who set herself on fire Saturday to protest Chinese rule in a Tibetan county in Sichuan province has now been identified, but her condition remains unknown, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said Monday.

Drolma, aged about 31 and identified only by one name, self-immolated near the Ba Choede monastery in Bathang (in Chinese, Batang) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

A native of Chisung village in Bathang, Drolma is survived by her father Nyima, and her family members include three high-ranking reincarnate lamas, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Her mother, Wangmo, passed away “a few years ago,” he added.

Drolma had set herself ablaze at about 3:00 p.m., India-based Tibetan exile parliamentarian Kalsang Gyaltsen told RFA at the weekend.

“Tibetans who were present at the scene intervened, put out the fire, and sent her to the hospital,” Gyaltsen said, citing local sources.

Drolma had previously been on retreat for several months at the small Ritoe Kagor monastery near Ba Choede, sources said.

Following Drolma’s protest, Chinese police rushed to Ba Choede and imposed “various restrictions” in the area that disrupted communication links, sources said.

Other nuns detained

Five or six nuns linked to Drolma were also detained, one source said Monday.

“Their present location is unknown,” the source said, adding that one of the detained nuns had previously visited India and then returned to Bathang.

No word has been received concerning Drolma’s present condition, and police have barred family and friends from visiting her at a local hospital, sources said.

Drolma’s family, the Thonglaka Tsang, was “well-known in the county for being heavily involved in the resistance to China’s occupation in the 1950s,” the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet said in a statement Monday.

The nun’s burning was the 130th Tibetan self-immolation in China since the fiery protests began in 2009 challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return from exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

On March 16, two Tibetan monks set themselves on fire and died in separate self-immolation protests in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces.

Chinese authorities have tightened controls in a bid to check the self-immolation protests, arresting and jailing Tibetans whom they accuse of being linked to the burnings. Some have been jailed for up to 15 years.

Reported by Lobsang Choephel, Lumbum Tashi, and Dorjee Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Lumbum Tashi. Written in English by Richard Finney.





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