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Tenzin Phuntsok dies from injuries; wife detained PDF Print E-mail
[9 December 2011] The former monk who self-immolated on 1 December in protest against China's repression in Tibet, has died. Tenzin Phuntsok succumbed to his injuries on 6 December in a hospital in Chamdo, Tibet Autonomous Region. Of the 12 Tibetans who have set fire to themselves this year, Tenzin is the seventh known to have died. The condition of the remaining five remains unclear.

Tenzin PhuntsokAccording to Radio Free Asia, Tenzin's wife, Dolma, has been missing since the incident on 1 December, and is feared to be in detention. A source was quoted as saying, When [Tenzin's wife] Dolma heard about the incident, she rushed to the scene and the police detained her. No one knows where she is now being held.

The exact reasons for Tenzin's protest are beginning to emerge. As a former monk, and with his son a novice monk at the local Karma monastery, Tenzin had become increasingly concerned over the treatment of local monks. Following a bomb blast at a local government building on 26 October, the Chinese authorities took over supervision of Karma monastery. A source quoted by Radio Free Asia said 70 monks had been arrested, whilst 40 others had fled the monastery and some of the remaining younger monks, including Tenzin's son, were ordered home.

Tenzin's protest took place near the local county office in Khamar township and occurred after armed police had begun to harass families of the local monks. Prior to dousing himself in petrol and setting himself alight, Tenzin distributed leaflets which expressed solidarity with the Karma monks and criticised Chinese rule. During the protest witnesses heard Tenzin shouting freedom slogans.

One of Tenzin's leaflets read, When monks and nuns suffer so much under detention with beatings and excruciating interrogations, I would prefer to die than remain alive. How can we trust this totalitarian who forbids us from practicing our Buddhism? Mere thinking about those monks is futile. We should rise up.

Tenzin was rushed to hospital following the protest and pronounced to be in stable condition by the Chinese media. According to Phayul, his family members were barred from visiting him in hospital.

Tenzin Phuntsok's protest is the first known self-immolation to have taken place in the Tibet Autonomous Region. All the previous immolations had taken place in Tibetan regions which China amalgamated into Chinese provinces.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul I Tibet Society (2 Dec) I TAKE ACTION I Background

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