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Nine self-immolations in nine-days in Tibet PDF Print E-mail
[27 November 2012] The recent escalation of self-immolations in Tibet shows no sign of abating, as nine self-immolations have taken place in the past nine days. Two further self-immolations occurred in Dokarmo, where Chinese officials have banned Tibetans from paying respects to self-immolators. Two of the self-immolations took place near a gold-mine mining site, in an apparent protest against China's exploitation of Tibet's natural resources.

Tamdin DorjeeSangay DolmaTsering DhondupKunchok Tsering
Wangchen Norbu I Lubum GyalTamding KyabWangyalGonpo Tsering
Take ActionBackground to self-immolations

Dokarmo self-immolations following ban announcement
Tamdin Dorjee (23 November), Sangay Dolma (25 November)
There have now been three self-immolations in Dokarmo in eastern Tibet, since the announcement by Chinese officials on 14 November of a ban on paying respects to Tibetans who have died from self-immolation.

Tamdin Dorjee, 29, self-immolated at around 6.30pm (local time) on 23 November in front of a local government office in Dokarmo township, Tsekhog (Ch: Zeku) county, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province). According to witnesses, Tamdin held his hands in a praying gesture as he was ablaze and shouted for the long life of the Dalai Lama. He walked about 10 steps before collapsing. He died at the scene.

Despite official warnings, over a thousand Tibetans gathered at the site of the self-immolation. Prayers and mantras were chanted, including for the long life of the Dalai Lama. The crowd then went to a site near Mindrol Dargyalling monastery for a traditional cremation service.

Tamdin Dorjee was from Mekor village in Dokarmo township. According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Tamdin Dorjee had recently told his family and close friends that he felt it was "difficult and tough to remain under Chinese restrictions and torture".

Sangay DolmaOn 25 November, at around 7pm local time, Sangay Dolma (pictured right) died after setting herself on fire in front of a government office in Dokarmo township. Sangay was a teenage nun. It is believed she left a note behind, but the content has yet to be disclosed. Large numbers of Tibetans are believed to have gathered to pray for Sangay.

The first self-immolation in Dokarmo took place on 18 November, by Sangdag Tsering, also in front of a local Chinese government office. It is not clear if all three protests occurred in front of the same building. However, all three took place after an announcement on 14 November by local authorities of a ban on paying respects to Tibetans who died from self-immolating. The authorities also threatened the closure of any monastery holding a funeral or prayer service for self-immolators.

Further reading:
Tamdin Dorjee: RFA I ICT I Phayul
Sangay Dolma: RFA I VOA I Phayul

Self-immolations at Chinese-operated gold mine
Tsering Dhondup (20 November), Kunchok Tsering (26 November)
Tsering Dhondup and Kunchok Tsering self-immolated, a week apart, at a gold mine in Amchok, eastern Tibet. Both men died at the scene. The gold mine, a Chinese-run operation, has been the focus of previous protests by Tibetans concerned over the mine's enviornmental impact. Read full report

Wangchen Norbu (19 November)
Wangchen NorbuOn 19 November, at 8pm local time, Wangchen Norbu (pictured right) set fire to himself near Ganden Choeling monastery in Kangsta (Chinese: Gangca), Yadzi (Ch: Xunhua Salar) county, Tsoshar (Ch: Haidong) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province). During his protest Wangchen, 25, called for freedom for Tibet, the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for the release of the Panchen Lama. Wangchen died at the scene.

A large number of monks and local people gathered at Ganden Choeling monastery for a funeral service later the same evening. During the service, the crowd is reported to have shouted for the long life of the Dalai Lama.

Earlier in November, Ganden Choeling monastery held a prayer service to remember the Tibetans who had died following self-immolation protests. Wangchen had attended the service and a source quoted by RFA said he became "very emotional" during the service.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul I VOA
Warning: the Phayul report contains a graphic image of Wangchen's body

Lubum Gyal (22 November)
In the afternoon of 22 November, Lubum Gyal, 18, died after setting himself on fire in Dowa township, Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) county, Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province). Following the protest local people surrounded Lubum's body to prevent Chinese police from taking it away. Later that evening, monks and local people gathered near Dowa monastery for traditional funeral rituals, despite a ban on funerals and prayers for self-immolators announced by the local Chinese authorities a week earlier.

In the days prior to Lubum's self-immolation, up to 30 military trucks carrying Chinese armed police and security personnel arrived in Dowa to enforce the ban on funerals and prayer services for self-immolators and restrict movements of local Tibetans. The ban was announced by the Chinese officials in Malho prefecture on 14 November. Some sources have suggested the ban and the increased security presence may have triggered Lubum to have self-immolated. Following Lubum's protest further security personnel were reported to have arrived in Dowa.

Further reading: TCHRD I RFA I VOA I Phayul

Tamding Kyab (22 November)
Tamding KyabFormer monk and nomad, Tamding Kyab
(pictured right) self-immolated at about 10pm local time on 22 November near Luchu river in Luchu (Ch: Luqu) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (part of China's Gansu province). Local Tibetans recovered Tamding's body and returned it to his home in Palgur Nagri village, where local monks performed traditional rituals.

According to sources quoted by Phayul, Tamding (also referred to as Tamdrin) had said to friends "How I wish I could also sacrifice my life" when he heard of other self-immolations. He also said that without the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, there is "no difference between living and dying in this world".

Tamding Kyab, 23, had formerly been a monk at Shitsang monastery. He left monastic life in 2007 to help his nomadic family. One of his three brothers is still a monk at Shitsang monastery.

Further reading: RFA I ICT I Phayul
Warning: The Phayul report contains a graphic image of Tamding's body

Wangyal (26 November)
WangyalTibetan student Wangyal self-immolated on 26 November in Serthar (Ch: Seda) town, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province). Wangyal, believed to be about 20 and a student of Sertha Peoples Middle School, set fire to himself on a main street in Serthar and ran towards a large golden horse statue located in the centre of the town. Sources quoted by Phayul said that as he ran Wangyal had his hands clasped as if in prayer and he shouted slogans calling for freedom for Tibetan people and the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama.

Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene, doused the flames and took Wangyal away. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) Wangyal died at the scene and Chinese security forces took away his body.

Further reading:

Gonpo Tsering (26 November)
Gonpo TseringOn 26 November, at 6pm local time, Gonpo Tsering
(pictured right) set fire to himself in front of the main prayer hall at Ala Deugo monastery in Luchu (Chinese: Luqu) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Amdo (part of China's Gansu province). According to a source quoted by Phayul, the 24 year-old father of three shouted slogans during his protest, including freedom for Tibet, human rights for Tibetans and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
Gonpo died at the scene.

Local Tibetans carried his body into the monastery, where, despite a ban on such gatherings, many local Tibetans assembled to say prayers for Gonpo. Since the protest security forces have been deployed to the region and restrictions tightened.

Further reading: Phayul I VOA
Take ActionBackground to self-immolations

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