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Six self-immolations in Tibet during March PDF Print E-mail
[5 April 2013] During the month of March six Tibetans undertook self-immolation protests. All six occurred in eastern regions of Tibet, two of which took place on significant dates; the eve of the appointment of Xi Jinping as President of China, and the fifth anniversary of the killing of Tibetan protestors by Chinese security forces in Ngaba. So far in 2013 there have been 17 self-immolations. With the recent confirmation of two self-immolations that took place in April 2012 the total number of self-immolations in Tibet has now reached 114.

March 2013 - Kunchok Wangmo I Lobsang Thomkey I Kalkyi I Lhamo Kyab I
Kunchok Tenzin
I unidentified female
April 2012 - Thupten Nyendak Rinpoche and Atse

Take ActionBackground to self-immolations

Kunchok Wangmo (13 March 2013)
On 13 March, the eve of Xi Jinpings formal selection as the new President of China, Kunchok Wangmo self-immolated in another apparent protest against Chinas rule over Tibet. Kunchoks protest took place at approximately midnight (local time) in Dzoge (Chinese: Ruanggui) county, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into Chinas Sichuan province). Kunchok died at the scene and her body was taken away by Chinese security forces. Kunchok, 31, was married with an eight year-old daughter, and is the 15th woman to self-immolate in Tibet.

Chinese officials cremated Kunchoks body without allowing any traditional rituals and returned the ashes to the family the following day. Kunchoks husband, Dolma Kyab, was then arrested by the officials after refusing to admit that his wife had burned herself to death due to a family argument.

Chinese media, however, have reported that Kunchok did not self-immolate but rather was murdered by her husband. The state-controlled Global Times stated that Kunchok was "strangled to death by her husband, who later burned her body" after an argument over Dolmas alcohol addiction. A report by state-run news agency Xinhua added that the couple had argued over Dolmas supposed "gambling, marital relations and other issues." Xinhua added that Dolma is being detained by "the Zoige County PSB on suspicion of intentional homicide, while the case undergoes further investigation.

Severe security restrictions have been enforced in the region since the self-immolation protest, including the blocking of communication channels, making it difficult to obtain further information on the protest and arrest.

Further reading: ICT I RFA I Phayul

Lobsang Thomkey (16 March 2013)
Lobsang ThomkeyOn 16 March, Lobsang Thomkey died after self-immolating at Kirti monastery in Ngaba (Ch: Aba), Amdo (incorporated into China's Sichuan province). Lobsang, 28, became the third Kirti monk to self-immolate on the anniversary of the 2008 protest in Ngaba during which Chinese armed forces killed at least 10 Tibetan protestors.

Lobsangs protest began at about 2.40pm (local time) when he emerged from his quarters in Kirti monastery doused in kerosene. Lobsang lit himself on fire and held up a khatag (a traditional Buddhist scarf) and ran towards the gates of the monastery shouting slogans, where he collapsed. It is not yet known what Lobsang shouted. Fellow monks took him to a local hospital, but he died shortly afterwards. Chinese security personnel arrived at the hospital and forcibly removed Lobsangs body, presumably to prevent traditional funeral rituals to be performed.

Lobsang Thomkey (also reported as Thomge) had been a monk at Kirti monastery since a young age and was described as having excellent conduct and being very diligent in his studies.

In 2011, Kirti monk Phuntsok set fire to himself on the anniversary of the 2008 Ngaba protest, becoming only the second Tibetan to self-immolate in Tibet in protest against Chinas rule. On the anniversary in 2012 another Kirti monk, Lobsang Tsultrim, self-immolated. Both monks died after their protests.

Further reading: ICT I TCHRD I RFA I Phayul

Kalkyi (24 March 2013)
KalkyiA 30 year-old nomad and mother of four children died after self-immolating on 24 March near Jonang monastery in Dzamthang (Ch: Rangtang) county, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture, Amdo (now part of Chinas Sichuan province). Kalkyi set fire to herself at approximately 3:30pm (local time). According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Kalkyi self-immolated in order to highlight the Chinese policy of violent rule in Tibet and Tibetan populated areas.

Kalkyi died at the scene and her body was carried by local Tibetans into Jonang monastery to try and prevent Chinese security forces from acquiring her body. Monks and laypeople gathered at the monastery to perform traditional rituals. It is not clear whether Chinese officials succeeded in taking Kalkyis body away, however, a large crowd subsequently gathered at Kalkyis home to offer prayers.

Kalkyi was a nomad from Barwa township, Dzamthang county. In May 2012, another Tibetan woman died after self-immolating near Jonang monastery. Rikyo, a nomad and mother of three, died from her injuries.

Further reading: RFA I VOA I ICT I Phayul
Warning: ICT report contains graphic image of self-immolation.

Lhamo Kyab (25 March 2013)
On 25 March, a forest guard named Lhamo Kyab, died after pouring kerosene over his body and jumping into an already prepared timber-wood fire. The protest took place in a rural area near Tsoe (Ch: Hezuo) town, Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of Chinas Gansu province).

Due to the remote location, little was left of Lhamo Kyabs body by the time locals arrived at the scene. According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Lhamo Kyab burned himself for the Tibetan religious and political cause, protesting against the Chinese policy in Tibet."

Lhamo Kyab was 43 and from Meshul township, Sangchu county.

Following the self-immolation, a large number of Chinese security personnel arrived in the area and began strict surveillance of local Tibetans. The situation is described as tense.

Further reading: RFA (25 March) I RFA (26 March) I ICT I Phayul
Warning: All reports, except RFA 25 March, contain graphic images of a self-immolation.

Kunchok Tenzin (26 March 2013)
Kunchok TenzinKunchok Tenzin, a 28 year-old monk, died after self-immolating near his monastery in eastern Tibet. The incident took place at about 7pm (local time) on a main road leading to Mogri monastery in Luchu (Ch: Luqu) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Gansu province).

Kunchok, who had been a monk at Mogri monastery since childhood, died at the scene. His fellow monks took his body back to the monastery and almost immediately began prayers and traditional rituals, including a cremation ceremony, to avoid Kunchoks body being apprehended by the Chinese authorities.

Following the self-immolation, Chinese security forces have been stationed near the monastery which houses about 90 monks and in neighbouring towns. Restrictions have also been imposed on local Tibetans. Due to the blocking of communications further details of Kunchoks protest and the subsequent crackdown in the region are not known.

Further reading: TCHRD I RFA I Phayul
Warning: Phayul report contains graphic image of self-immolation.

Unidentified female (end of March 2013)
A Tibetan woman is reported to have set fire to herself in Jyekundo, eastern Tibet in an effort to protect her home from being demolished by Chinese authorities.

The incident, by a yet unidentified Tibetan woman, took place at the end of March in Jyekundo, (Ch: Yushu), Kham (now part of Chinas Qinghai province). According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, the woman self-immolated as a wrecking crew arrived to demolish her house. The demolition was apparently part of a Chinese government programme to bulldoze 1000 homes in the area. Jyekundo and the surrounding region was devastated by a major earthquake in 2010. The woman is understood to have survived.

Jyekundo has seen a number of protests by local Tibetans since the 2010 earthquake, which killed over 2,600 and left tens of thousands homeless. In April 2011 hundreds of Tibetans protested against land seizures by the local authorities and redevelopment policies which favoured Han Chinese. On 27 June 2012, Dickyi Choezom set fire to herself during a protest in Jyekundo highlighting the Chinese government's unjust land confiscation policies.

Further reading: RFA

Thupten Nyendak Rinpoche and Atse (6 April 2012)
Thupten Nyendak Rinpoche & AtseUPDATE 27 March 2013: The Tibetan government in exile has issued a report stating that two Tibetans, who burned to death in a fire on 6 April 2012, died intentionally and are therefore being added to the list of those Tibetans who have self-immolated in protest against Chinas rule over Tibet.

Initial reports indicated that Thupten Nyendak Rinpoche (aka Tulku Athup), 45, and his niece, Atse, 23, from Serthar Tibetan Buddhist Institute, both died in an accidental fire in Rinpoches residence at Dzogchen Monastery, Derge (Ch: Dege) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated in China's Sichuan province). However, the Tibetan government in exiles report, issued on 27 March 2013, reveals that Rinpoche phoned his family on the day of the incident saying that he was going to end his life.

The report quotes Rinpoche as saying, Today I feel at ease and [am] ending my life by offering butter lamps for all those Tibetans who have set themselves on fire for the cause of Tibet. Following the call it is understood that Rinpoche and Atse set themselves on fire.

Shortly after the incident occurred, Chinese police arrived at Dzogchen monastery. As the monks feared closure of the monastery, they told the police that the monk and nun had died in an accidental fire. The news of the Rinpoches intentions has emerged following the imposition of severe restrictions in many regions of eastern Tibet by the Chinese authorities.

The self-immolations of Rinpoche and Atse bring the total number of self-immolations in Tibet to 115 since 2009. In 2012 there are now known to have been 85 self-immolations in Tibet.

Further reading: CTA I RFA I Phayul
(Note: CTA stands for Central Tibetan Administration, which is known internationally as the Tibetan government in exile.)

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