Third Self-Immolation in Three Days

Another Tibetan teenager sets himself ablaze in the lead-up to a politically sensitive anniversary.

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immolationprotest-305.jpg Tibetans offer prayers near mock coffins for victims of self-immolation in Siliguri, India, Feb. 8, 2012.

A Tibetan youth burned himself to death on Monday to protest Chinese rule in Tibetan areas—the third self-immolation in three days, according to Tibetan sources.

The young man, identified as Dorje, 18, set himself ablaze at around 6:30 p.m. local time in a nomadic area of Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in China’s western Sichuan province, said Kanyag Tsering, an India-based Tibetan monk, citing contacts in the region.

“Prior to his self-immolation, he walked from a bridge near the Charuwa nomadic area in Ngaba to the local Chinese office center shouting slogans against Chinese policies in Tibet, and then set himself on fire,” Tsering said.

He died on the spot, Tsering said.

“Before [local] Tibetans could take possession of his body, Chinese police arrived and took his body to the Ngaba county center.”

Dorje is the 26th Tibetan to have self-immolated since February 2009 in protests against Beijing's rule in Tibetan-populated areas and calling for the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Dorje’s family is the Garkya Tsang of Charuwa in the Cha subdivision of Ngaba county, and his father’s name is Cha Cha, Tsering added.

Desperate situation

His death came after twin self-immolations at the weekend, highlighting what rights groups say is the "desperate" situation facing Tibetans as Chinese authorities pursue a crackdown on monasteries and policies curtailing Tibetan language and other cultural rights.

“This third self-immolation in as many days underlines that Tibetans will not stop protesting until their calls for freedom are heeded. The international community must take immediate action,” London-based advocacy group Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said.

A 32-year-old Tibetan widow and mother of four named Rinchen died after burning herself on Sunday in Sichuan province while a middle-school girl, identified on Monday as Tsering Kyi, self-immolated on Saturday in Gansu province.

Following the self-immolations, Chinese authorities have tightened security in the two areas and in the Tibet Autonomous Region ahead of what Tibetans call "Uprising Day" on March 10, the sensitive anniversaries of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile in 1959 and of deadly riots in 2008.

The body of Tsering Kyi is in the custody of Chinese police and has not been returned to her family after she set herself on fire at a vegetable market in Machu county in Gansu province’s Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, sources said.

“The Chinese vendors at the Machu vegetable market threw stones at her burning body,” one source had said, adding that the girl died at the scene.

Several witnesses to the fiery protest were immediately detained, the source said.

“The Machu Tibetan Nationality Middle School is surrounded by Chinese paramilitary forces, and officials are conducting ‘reeducation’ activities inside the school. Tibetan family houses in the Machu area are also being searched.”

Language protest

Tsering Kyi had earlier protested a Chinese decision to eliminate Tibetan as the language of instruction for text books in the middle school, a Tibetan source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Authorities had implemented the teaching of subjects like history, geography, chemistry, and math in Chinese,” the source said.

“Tibetan teachers and students are facing great difficulty in adjusting to the transition,” he said.

Meanwhile, a monk named Rigdzin Dorje, who set fire to himself in February, is now reported to have died.

Another monk, Lobsang Konchog, who self-immolated in September 2011, “is in serious condition following [the] amputation of his legs and arms. He is being fed through a tube in his throat, ” the India-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said in a statement.

The staff at the hospital physically abuse him and have labeled him an “enemy of the state,” said the CTA, expressing condolences to the families of the self-immolators.

Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee and Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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