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Self-immolations exceed 50 as teenage cousins die PDF Print E-mail
[28 August 2012] Two Tibetan teenage cousins self-immolated on 27 August in eastern Tibet, bringing the total number of self-immolations in Tibet since February 2009 to 51. The two cousins, who were protesting against Chinese rule, both died later the same day.

Kirti monasteryLobsang Kelsang, an 18 year-old monk from Kirti monastery (pictured right), and his cousin, 17 year-old former Kirti monk Lobsang Damchoe, set fire to themselves in a joint protest at about 8.30am local time on 27 August. The incident occurred near the eastern gate of Kirti monastery, in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), Amdo (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province).

Witnesses said the two cousins shouted slogans against China's policies in Tibet and "Ki, Ki", a Tibetan battle cry, during their protest. They both walked about 20 steps whilst ablaze before collapsing. Chinese police extinguished the flames and took the two away. It was confirmed both died in hospital later the same day.

ImageBoth Lobsang Kelsang and Lobsang Damchoe were from Raruwa village, Chara (Ch: Jialuo) township, Ngaba county. Lobsang Damchoe was the younger brother of Tenzin Choedron, a nun who died after self-immolating on 11 February. Lobsang Damchoe, formerly a monk at Kirti monastery (pictured right), disrobed to help his mother in her nomadic work after his parents separated.

Following the joint protest, Chinese authorities detained Lobsang Kelsang's roommate at Kirti monastery, Lobsang Palden. It is not known if he has been formerly charged or not.

These latest self-immolations bring to 51 the number of Tibetans in Tibet who have self-immolated since February 2009. The majority of cases have involved the protestors shouting slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama. Of the 51 cases, 49 have taken place in the past 12 months. Forty-one of the Tibetans who have self-immolated are known to have died.

The self-immolations are part of a wider, continuing protests by Tibetans against Chinese government oppression in Tibet. Thousands of Tibetans have taken part in public demonstrations this year, risking their freedom and lives. An unknown number of Tibetans have been detained for participating in peaceful protests. Harsh prison sentences are being handed down for those accused of leading protests, assisting those who self-immolate or for simply passing on information about protests.

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