A former monk at Tibet’s Karma monastery, the scene of a recent crackdown by Chinese security forces, set himself on fire on Thursday in protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, a Tibetan source in exile said.
Karma monastery, located in the Chamdo prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), was taken over by Chinese armed police following the Oct. 26 bombing of a nearby government building.
No casualties were reported in the blast, but walls of the building had been painted with slogans in red calling for independence for Tibet, and leaflets had been scattered in the area, sources said.
Tenzin Phuntsog, 46, “self-immolated for the cause of Tibet near a field in Karma township in Chamdo on the afternoon of Dec. 1,” a Tibetan living in India said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing sources in Chamdo.
“Shortly afterward, Chinese police extinguished the fire and took him to a hospital with severe burns,” the source said.
“Tenzin Phuntsog’s wife’s name is Dolma, and he has two sons and a daughter.”
A second source, calling from Tibet, confirmed the incident and said that Tenzin Phuntsog had discussed “the status of Tibet and the Tibetan people’s welfare” with friends and family a few days before.
“”He was very frustrated by the recent imposition of restrictions on Karma monastery and by the detention of many monks. There was even talk by Chinese officials of closing the monastery.”
“Before he set fire to himself, Tenzin Phuntsog shouted slogans and scattered leaflets,” the source said.
Calls seeking comment from the Chamdo police station rang unanswered Thursday.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.