Three Tibetans self-immolate over three day period
[9 January 2012] Three self-immolations have taken place in Tibet in recent days, continuing the trend of tragic protests against China's brutal rule in Tibet into 2012. On 6 January, two Tibetans set themselves on fire near Kirti monastery in Ngaba, Sichuan province, with at least one succumbing to their injuries. Two days later a senior monk died after self-immolating in front of a police station in Darlag county in Qinghai. This brings to 15 the number of self-immolations in Tibet in the past 10 months, with at least nine having died.
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The details of the incident on 6 January are still to be confirmed, but it is believed both Tibetans were from Kirti monastery, and have been named as Tenyi (a monk) and Tsultrim (a former monk). Both are said to have called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet during their protest. One of the two Tibetans is believed to have died at the scene whilst the condition of the other has yet to be verified.
These are the ninth and tenth immolations to have taken place in Ngaba since 16 March 2011, when Phuntsok, a monk from Kirti monastery, set himself on fire in protest against the ongoing crackdown in Tibet.
UPDATE: 10 January
The two Tibetans who self-immolated on 6 January are reported to have died. Tibetan exile sources say that Tenyi, a monk from Kirti monastery died at the scene of the joint protest, whilst Tsultrim, believed to be a former monk, died the following day, succumbing to his injuries.
Tenyi and Tsultrim, both about 20 years old, set fire to themselves in the courtyard of a hotel in Ngaba and then ran into the street whilst shouting slogans including, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama must return to Tibet” and “May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live for 10,000 years!”
Further reading: ICT I Phayul
On 8 January, Sonam Wangyal (pictured right) died after setting fire to himself in protest against China's rule in Tibet. The incident took place in front of the Darlag (Chinese: Dari) county police station in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province.
Sonam Wangyal, a 42-year old senior monk, also known as Sopa Tulku, was a well-respected lama and ran an old people's home and an orphanage in Darlag. He is believed to be the most senior monk to have self-immolated so far. His case is also the first to have occured in Qinghai province. One immolation has taken place in the TAR whilst the majority have occured in Sichuan province.
According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, on the morning of his protest Sonam Wangyal said prayers and burned incense on a local hill-top before distributing leaflets which stated that he his protest was "not for personal glory but for Tibet and the happiness of Tibetans". The leaflet also said, "Tibetans should not lose their determination. The day of happiness will come for sure. For the Dalai Lama to live long, the Tibetans should not lose track of their path."
Once outside the police station Sonam Wangyal, dressed in his monk's robes, shouted slogans calling for Tibet's freedom and the long life of the Dalai Lama. He then drank kerosene and poured more over his body before setting himself alight. Sonam died at the scene, with the police taking away his body.
Reports have since indicated that up to 2,000 local Tibetans held a vigil urging the police to release Sonam's body. After several skirmishes the body was handed over, in an apparent effort to ease tensions. However, reports have also been received that security has since been tightened in Darlag, with additional security forces deployed to the area.
Since March 2011 there have been 15 self-immolations in Tibet, with at least nine Tibetans known to have died.
Further reading: RFA (8 Jan) I RFA (6 Jan) I Phayul (6 Jan)
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