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First self-immolation in Tibet Autonomous Region PDF Print E-mail
[2 December 2011] A former monk set himself on fire in Khamar township, Chamdo prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, on 1 December in a protest against China's ongoing repression. Tenzin Phuntsok is believed to have survived and was taken to hospital. This is the first known self-immolation to have taken place in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the 12th this year. All the previous immolations had taken place in Tibetan regions which China amalgamated into Chinese provinces.

[Update: 9 December] Reports have been received that Tenzin Phuntsok died on 6 December. Click here to read report.

Tenzin Phuntsok is a 46-year old former monk from Karma monastery in Chamdo prefecture. According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Tenzin self-immolated for the cause of Tibet near a field in Khamar township in Chamdo on the afternoon of December 1st. He is understood to have shouted slogans and scattered leaflets during his protest. Another source said that Tenzin had discussed the status of Tibet and the Tibetan peoples welfare with friends and family a few days before and that "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.

Karma monastery was placed under heavy security by the Chinese authorities following an unconfirmed bomb blast at a government building in Chamdo on 26 October. Monks were reportedly confined to the monastery at the time and the monastery has been under lockdown since. Chamdo itself has been at the forefront of repressive measures implemented by the Chinese government, particularly since the 2008 protests, with a heavy security presence and intense 'patriotic education' campaigns.

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