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Cousins die after joint self-immolation protest PDF Print E-mail
[20 April 2012] Two young Tibetan men died after setting fire to themselves in a joint protest in eastern Tibet on 19 April. Local Tibetans prevented security forces from taking their bodies away. The men were related and from herder families living rurally. There have been 35 self-immolations in Tibet in total, 22 of which have taken place this year.

Global Intervention logoCousins Choepak Kyap (pictured right, top) and Sonam (pictured right, bottom), both in their 20s, self-immolated near a local government building in Barma township, Dzamthang (Chinese: Rangtang) county, Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan. The protest occurred at about 1pm on 19 April. Local Tibetans immediately surrounded the two men to prevent security forces from beating them and taking them away.

Choepak Kyap and Sonam died a few hours after their protest at which point their bodies were taken to the local Dzamthang Jonang monastery for prayers and funeral services. Paramilitary troops have been deployed in the town and have reportedly converged on the monastery.

Barma has been the location of several protests this year. On 19 February, 18 year-old Nangdrol died after setting fire to himself outside Dzamthang Jonang monastery. During his protest Nangdrol was heard to shout May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live 10,000 years and Freedom for Tibet.

On 26 January, Chinese police fired into a crowd who had gathered in Barma to protest against the arrest of a local Tibetan. A 20 year-old Tibetan, Urgen, was shot dead and several others wounded.

Further reading:
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[UPDATE 26 April]
Since the joint immolation, it has been discovered that Choepak Kyap and Sonam recorded a voice message prior to their protest. In the recording, which was addressed to all Tibetans, the two cousins said their actions were for the protection of the Buddha Dharma in Tibet and for the restoration of Tibets freedom. They specified that their actions were not for personal glory and urged their fellow Tibetans avoid fighting among themselves. They also called for unity among Tibetans.

According to Phayul, the Tibetan news service that reported the recording, the message has had an effect on Tibetans in the Zamthang region of Ngaba, where the joint immolation occured and where the message has been widely circulated. On 23 April, In response to the cousins' appeal to stop infighting, Tibetans gathered in front of Zamthang monastery and burned their weapons. Previously, about 6,000 Tibetans had attended the cousins' funeral.

Further reading: Phayul (24 April)

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