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Displaced Tibetan nomad self-immolates PDF Print E-mail
[5 June 2013] A Tibetan nomad, understood to have been forced to resettle by the Chinese authorities, died after setting fire to himself in the Yushu region of Qinghai province on 27 May. Tenzin Sherab's protest was the first self-immolation to occur in Tibet in over a month.

Tenzin SherabThe self-immolation took place in the Gyaring area of Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province). Tenzin Sherab, 31, died from his injuries at the scene.

Chinese security forces are understood to have confiscated Tenzin's body at the scene of the protest, but returned it to his family the following day. However, the family have since been subjected to interrogations by the police and, according to Radio Free Asia, been unable to take to the body to a monastery for a traditional funeral.

Local sources said that Tenzin, prior to his protest, had expressed concerns about Chinese policies in Tibet and the impact on Tibetan religion and culture. The sources quoted Tenzin as saying, We can no longer bear to live under Chinas constant torture and repression.

Tenzin was from a nomadic family that had been forcibly resettled by the Chinese authorities to a village in Chumarleb (Ch: Qumalai), Jyekundo (Ch:Yushu) prefecture. It is suggested that Tenzin was away from home at the time of his protest, possibly collecting caterpillar fungus (Yartsa gunbu). The fungus is used in Chinese medicine and its collection has become a popular way for nomadic Tibetans to supplement their incomes, given the lack of other employment opportunities.

Tenzin's self-immolation was the 21st in Tibet this year, however it was the first in over a month. On 24 April, Lobsang Dawa and Kunchok Woser died following a joint protest in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture, Amdo (incorporated into China's Sichuan province). Since February 2009, there have been 118 self-immolations by Tibetans living under Chinese rule, 117 in Tibet and one in Beijing.

Further reading: ICT I RFA I Phayul

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