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Tibetan activist is third to self-immolate in a week PDF Print E-mail
[13 August 2012] A young nomad, known to have been involved in previous protests calling for freedom from Chinese rule, became the third Tibetan to self-immolate last week. The protest, as with the two earlier incidents, took place in eastern Tibet. All three Tibetans who self-immolated are now known to have died.

Choepa, a 24-year old nomad wanted by the Chinese police for participation in a protest in January, set fire to himself at approximately 10am local time on 10 August in Meruma township, Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province). Choepa was heard to be shouting slogans as he set himself ablaze, but it is not yet known what the slogans were. Chinese security forces were quickly on the scene, extinguished the flames and took Choepa away. Sources say that Choepa died before reaching hospital.

Local Chinese authorities refused Choepa's family to take away the body to perform traditional Buddhist funeral rituals. Instead, as now seems to be policy, officials cremated the body and handed over the ashes to the deceased's family.

Following Choepa's protest, security was reported to have increased in the Meruma region, with large numbers of armed personel patrolling the area. The atmosphere was described as "tense" by local sources.

Choepa had been involved in previous protests against China's occupation of Tibet. On 23 January 2012 Choepa was one of hundreds of Tibetans who demonstrated in Meruma, calling for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. Chinese police had Choepa on their wanted list as an organiser of the January protest but until his self-immolation he had evaded capture.

Choepa's self-immolation followed those of Lobsang Tsultrim on 6 August in Ngaba town and Dolkar Tso on 7 August in Tsoe city. Both Lobsang and Dolkar died as a result of their injuries.
This year alone there have been 34 cases of self-immolation and overall, since February 2009, there have been 47 cases.

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