Two Tibetans die after self-immolating
[14 August 2012 - updated] On 6 and 7 August, Lobsang Tsultrim, a monk from Kirti monastery, and Dolkar Tso, a Tibetan mother of two, set fire to themselves in separate protests in eastern Tibet. Both succumbed to their burns and died. Since February 2009, 46 Tibetans have self-immolated as protests against China's oppressive rule continue.
6 August - Kirti monk self-immolates in Ngaba
Lobsang Tsultrim (pictured right), a 21-year old monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), Amdo (now incorporated into the Chinese province of Sichuan), self-immolated at approximately 5pm local time on 6 August.
Lobsang's protest took place in front of Kirti monastery. According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, Lobsang shouted slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and Kirti Rinpoche to Tibet. He also called for Tibetans in Tibet and in exile to unite and for a school at Kirti monastery forcibly closed by the Chinese authorities in 2003 to be allowed to reopen.
Lobsang attempted to walk towards a government building whilst he was on fire, but collapsed to the ground. Armed police emerged to extinguish the flames and took him to the local hospital and then transferred him to Barkham (Ch: Ma’erkang) hospital where he succumbed to his burns at around midnight the same day.
Chinese authorities cremated Lobsang's body, denying his family the right to a traditional Buddhist funeral. His ashes were later handed over. Monks from Kirti monastery re-cremated Lobsang Tsultrim's ashes at a site near the monastery.
Kanyag Tsering, a monk living at Kirti’s branch monastery in India, citing sources in the region said Lobsang Tsultrim had left a final testament. However, Chinese authorities have threatened a 10-year prison term for anyone transmitting details outside the Kirti area in Tibet.
Lobsang was born in Ryiwa village, Cha Township in Ngaba. He joined Kirti monastery at a young age and was a classmate of Phuntsok, who died after self-immolating on 16 March 2011. During the 2008 uprisings in Tibet Lobsang was arrested and beaten by Chinese security forces. Lobsang is the eighth monk from Kirti monastery to have self-immolated since February 2009 and the 27th Tibetan from Ngaba.
Further reading: RFA (6 Aug) I TCHRD (8 Aug) I TCHRD (9 Aug) I ICT
7 August - Mother of two self-immolates in Tsoe
Dolkar Tso (pictured right), 26, set fire to herself in the afternoon of 7 August at Tsoe Gaden Choeling monastery in Tsoe City (Ch: Hezuo), Kanlho (Ch: Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) in the traditional province of Amdo (now incorporated into the Chinese province of Gansu). During her protest Dolkar called out for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and that there is no freedom in Tibet. Monks rushed out from the monastery to extinguish the flames and took her away to receive treatment. However, Dolkar died later the same day.
China confirmed the self-immolation, however they claim the incident was due to a family feud. An official was quoted in Xinhua, the Chinese government's news agency, as saying, “The Tibetan mother died of self-immolation on Tuesday over conflicts between her and her families.”
Dolkar was from a farming family and born in Tasur, Nawu Township, about 10km from Tsoe City. Though she was illiterate, Dolkar was described as well-informed on Tibet issues as she was an avid listener to Radio Free Asia Tibetan broadcasts. She was said to be very upset by the ongoing self-immolations. She leaves a five-year old son and a three-year old daughter. Dolkar is the eighth woman to have self-immolated in Tibet.
On 8 August, tensions in the area rose as three monks were detained on suspicion of sheltering Dolkar's body. Despite one later being released, Chinese security forces tried to detain a further 17 monks. Monks and local residents mobbed the police to demand the release of those detained. The area remains tense.
The Tsoe area has witnessed protests against Chinese rule in the past, with demonstrations in 2008 and 2010. Respected monk Jigme Guri was detained in Tsoe in August 2011 after uploading video testimony to Youtube of receiving torture during an earlier detention. There are fears for Jigme's well-being. His current condition and whereabouts are unknown.
Overall, 46 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since February 2009, 35 of whom are known to have died. This year there have been 33 cases of self-immolation in Tibet.
Further reading: RFA (7 Aug) I RFA (8 Aug) I TCHRD (8 Aug) I TCHRD (10 Aug)
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