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Self-immolation total reaches 95 overall; 82 in 2012 PDF Print E-mail
[9 January 2013] The month of December saw a further five self-immolation protests in Tibet, all of which took place in the first two weeks. Hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of Tibetans attended the funeral services despite the Chinese authorities announcing bans on such services and heightening security measures. There were 82 self-immolations recorded in Tibet in 2012, with the overall total reaching 95, since the first self-immolation protest took place in February 2009.

Sungdue KyapLobsang GendunPema DorjeeKunchok Phelgye I Wangchen Kyi
Take Action Background to self-immolations

Sungdue Kyap (2 December 2012)
Sungdue KyapAt 3pm local time on 2 December, Sungdue Kyap set fire to himself on a main street near Bora monastery in Labrang (also known as Sangchu, Ch: Xiahe) county in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of Chinas Gansu province). During the protest, Sungdue saw police forces walking towards him and he banged his head against a wall to try and avoid being detained alive. Nonetheless he survived the protest. Chinese security personnel proceeded to douse the flames, bundled Sungdue away and took him to a hospital in Tsoe, Kanlho, where he apparently received two hours of emergency treatment.

The hospital has since been heavily fortified, surrounded by armed police. Sungdues family have not been allowed to visit. Monks from Bora monastery also tried to see Sungdue but have been refused permission to travel to Tsoe by the Chinese authorities.

Said to be in his late teens, Sungdue (aka Sangdag) is from Dardo Village in Bora township and is understood to have a two year old son. Sungdues current condition is not known.

Sungdues protest took place at the same location as that of Lhamo Kyap who died after self-immolating on 20 October 2012. Since Sungdues self-immolation more than 200 Chinese security forces have been sent to the region. Tensions are mounting in Bora and communication has been restricted.

Further reading: TCHRD I Phayul (2 Dec) I Phayul (4 Dec) I RFA

Lobsang Gendun (3 December 2012)
Lobsang GendunLobsang Gendun, a 29 year-old monk from Penang monastery, self-immolated at 7.45pm local time on 3 December in Pema (Ch: Banma) county, Golog prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province). According to a source quoted by Phayul, Lobsang called a friend to warn of his imminent self-immolation and said: My hope is for Tibetans from all the three provinces of Tibet to be united, have solidarity with each other, and not to indulge in internal quarrels. Our aspirations will be fulfilled if we all do this.

During his protest, Lobsang clasped his hands together in prayer, shouted slogans and walked about 300 steps to a busy intersection before collapsing. Lobsang died at the scene.

After the protest, local Tibetans stopped Chinese security personnel from taking Lobsangs body away. Eventually the body was brought to Lobsangs monastery. Despite Chinese authorities banning inhabitants of neighbouring towns from travelling to Penag, a large number of people visited the monastery to offer prayers and pay respects to the family. Lobsangs final rites were planned to be carried out on 5 December.

Two prominent Tibetans have been arrested in connection with Lobsangs protest. Washul Dodrub, a known activist, was detained on the night of the protest. The followong day, Lali Choekyab was also arrested upon visiting a local police office to urge the release of Washul. Both men are known as respected mediators in the local community. Details of their whereabouts and current well-being are not known.

Security has been heightened in the region, particularly around Penag monastery.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul (3 Dec) I Phayul (5 Dec) I VOA
Warning: The RFA & Phayul (3 Dec) reports contains graphic images of the self-immolation

Pema Dorjee (8 December 2012)
Pema DorjeeOn 8 December, at 4:30pm local time, Pema Dorjee set fire to himself In front of Shitsang monastery in Luchu (Ch: Luqu) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (part of China's Gansu province). A large number of Tibetans were offering prayers during a special service at the monastery at the time and witnessed the self-immolation. According to eyewitnesses quoted by TCHRD, 23 year-old Pema shouted slogans during his protest including for Tibetan land to be governed by Tibetans, the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as for Tibetan independence and unity among Tibetans. Pema died at the scene.

Pema Dorjee was from a nomadic family in Choekor village, Luchu county, located about 30km from Shitsang monastery. Photos and identity documents were found with Pemas motorbike, which he had brought to the protest site. Since the self-immolation heavy restrictions have been placed on Shitsang monastery.

Further reading: TCHRD I Phayul I RFA I ICT
Warning: The TCHRD & Phayul reports contains graphic images of the self-immolation

Kunchok Phelgye (8 December 2012)
Kunchok PhelgyeKunchok Phelgye self-immolated at 5:20pm local time on 8 December, in front of the main assembly hall of Taktsang Lhamo Kirti monastery in Dzoge (Ch: Ruanggui) county, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province).

During his protest, Kunchok clasped his hands together and called for the long life and return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. He also called for the return of Kirti Rinpoche (the exiled head of Kirti monastery in Ngaba) to Tibet as well as the reunification of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet. Whilst engulfed in flames, monks surrounded Kunchok and recited prayers usually reserved for Kirti Rinpoche. Kunchok died at the scene and his body was taken back to his monastery, where hundreds arrived to pay their respects.

Kunchok, 24, had originally become a monk as a child, studying at Dringwa Sumdo monastery in Dzoge. In 2010 he joined the larger Taktsang Lhamo Kirti monastery where he was a senior student of Buddhist philosophy.

Since the protest Taktsang Lhamo Kirti monastery and neighbouring villages have been put under a security blockade.

Further reading: TCHRD I Phayul I RFA I VOA I ICT
Warning: The TCHRD, Phayul & RFA reports contains graphic images of the self-immolation

Wangchen Kyi (9 December 2012)
Wangchen KyiAt 8pm local time on 9 December, Wangchen Kyi set fire to herself in the Dokarmo nomadic area of Tsekhog (Ch: Zeku) county, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province). During her protest the 17 year-old student called for the long life of the Dalai Lama and for the Tibetan people to prevail for tens of thousands of years.

Days before, Wangchen (also referred to as Bhenchen) had told friends that she would self-immolate for the cause of Tibet in the nomadic plains populated by Tibetans, and not in the town centre, in order to avoid Chinese forces taking away her body.

During the protest, two thousand Tibetans gathered around Wangchen, and called for the Dalai Lamas long life and recited prayers. Wangchen died at the scene of the protest. Hours later, Wangchen was cremated in the presence of her family and three thousand people came to the funeral to pay their respects. The crowd was then dispersed by the arrival of two truckloads of armed Chinese police.

Wangchen Kyis self-immolation is the fourth to take place in the Tsekhog region of Rebkong. She is survived by her parents and two siblings.

Further reading: ICT I RFA I Phayul

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