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Two Kirti monks in self-immolation protest PDF Print E-mail
[27 September] Two monks from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba, Sichuan province) set themselves on fire at approximately 11am local time on 26 September in protest against the continued religious repression by the Chinese government. One of the monks is believed to be Lobsang Kelsang, the younger brother of Phunstok, the monk who immolated himself on 16 March. The second monk has been named as Lobsang Kunchok.

Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang KunchokThe incident took place in Ngaba town near Kirti monastery. Before setting themselves alight, Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang Kunchok (pictured on left and right respectively, date of photos unknown), both believed to be about 18 years old, called for religious freedom and shouted "Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama".

Initial reports indicated one monk had died and the other had been taken to hospital in critical condition. The official state news agency, Xinhua, said that both monks had been "rescued" and taken to a local hospital for treatment. Since the protest phone lines and internet access to the region have been cut, making it difficult to verify the condition and whereabouts of the two monks. Roadblocks have been set up and more security personnel are said to be patrolling the streets.

Ngaba has been the scene of a military lockdown since the death of Phuntsok in mid-March. Over 300 monks were forcibly removed from Kirti monastery in April during which two Tibetans were killed who were protesting against the removal. The remaining monks have been under strict surveillance and subject to 'patriotic re-edcation' sessions led by the Chinese authorities. The monastery has been surrounded by armed soldiers  and movement in and out of the monastery has been severely restricted. At least ten monks have been imprisoned since the crisis began, including Phuntsok's uncle, Lobsang Tsundue, who was sentenced to 11 years for assisting his nephew, and his older brother Lobsang Dhargye, who received two and a half year sentence.

This is the third incident of self-immolation this year. As well as Phuntsok's tragic protest in March, Tsewang Norbu from Nyitso monastery in Tawu (Sichuan province) died following his action on 15 August. Similarly to Ngaba, Tawu has also been subject to a military lockdown, and at least three monks have been arrested in connection with Tsewang Norbu's protest.

Until this year self-immolation as a form of protest in Tibet has been rare. That four have now occurred in six months indicates the intensity of the Chinese government's ongoing repression of religious freedom and of freedoms in general and the desparation felt amongst Tibetans.

Tibet Society has liaised with the Foreign Office and has asked they call on China to end the crackdowns in Ngaba and Tawu and release all those detained and imprisoned since the protests began.

Further reports:
AFP I ICT  Initial reports: TCHRD I Phayul

Click here
to read more on the crisis at Kirti monastery and for action to take.
Click here to read more on Tsewang Norbu and the crackdown in Tawu.

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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