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Tibetan dies after ninth self-immolation protest of 2014 PDF Print E-mail
[19 December 2014] On 16 December, a Tibetan father of two became the ninth Tibetan to self-immolate in Tibet this year. Sangyal Khar's protest took place outside a police station in Amchok. Reports indicate that Chinese police confiscated the body and have refused to hand it over to his family.

Sangyal KharSangyal Khar (pictured right), 33, set fire to himself at about 9am on 16 December outside a police station in the town of Amchok, Sangchu county (also known as Labrang, Chinese: Xiahe), Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Gansu province).

According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Khar's protest was "against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas. Khar died at the scene. Sangyal Khar was a father of two children and from Chung Nyuthang village, a farming community in Amchok township.

The date of the protest is believed to be significant as it is the anniversary of the death of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.

As the local authorities restricted communications following the protest, details have been difficult to confirm. The majority of reports indicate Khar's body was confiscated by Chinese police immediately after the self-immolation. One report also referred to protests by local Tibetans after the police refused to hand over the body to Khar's family. However, another source indicated the body may have been taken to Labrang monastery to be cremated.

As well as blocking communication lines, the local authorities are reported to have placed restrictions on movement by Tibetans in the region and increased the presence of security personnel.

The Chinese authorities in Tibet have regularly denied families the right to a traditional Tibetan funeral by confiscating the self-immolator's body and later only returning ashes. In some cases, Tibetans have managed to prevent police from taking the body away and taken it to a nearby monastery to at least allow a cremation in a religious setting.

Sangyal Khar's self-immolation is the first since 17 September, when 22 year-old student Lhamo Tashi died after setting fire to himself outside a police station in Tsoe county, Kanlho prefecture. It is the ninth self-immolation to take place in 2014 and the 133rd in Tibet since 2009.

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