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Police shoot into crowd of Tibetans following self-immolation PDF Print E-mail
[9 January 2015] At least two Tibetans were injured after Chinese police fired into a crowd following a self-immolation protest in eastern Tibet. The incident took place on 23 December. The self-immolation, by a monk who died from his injuries, was the third in an eight-day period.

Kalsang YesheOn 23 December, at approximately 11am local time, Tibetan monk Kalsang Yeshe (pictured right) self-immolated in front of a police station located inside Nyitso monastery, Tawu (Chinese: Dawu), Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province). [Note: Chinese authorities have set up police stations or posts inside many monasteries in Tibet in order to closely monitor and regulate the activities of the monks.]

According to various sources, Yeshe called for the return of Dalai Lama to Tibet and for freedom for Tibetans as he set fire to himself. A source quoted by Radio Free Asia said that Yeshe was holding a Tibetan flag at the time of his self-immolation and it was later discovered he had placed a ceremonial scarf underneath an image of the Dalai Lama in his room with a note reading, The six million Tibetans are waiting for you.

Yeshe died from his injuries, though it is not clear whether he died at the scene or after Chinese police arrived and took him away.

Members of Yeshe's family requested his body be returned to allow traditional funeral rites, but were told he had already been cremated and his ashes were discarded into a local river. A source quoted by Phayul said, "Two family members of the deceased were forced to throw the remains into a river at gunpoint."

Wounded monkIn the aftermath following the self-immolation, Chinese police fired into a crowd of Tibetans, with at least two receiving gunshot wounds
(one of which was a monk shot in the arm, pictured right). However, there are conflicting reports as to where the gunshots were fired. Verification is difficult due to the blocking of communication channels by the Chinese authorities.

According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, a crowd gathered as Kalsang Yeshe set fire to himself and attempted to protect him from being taken away by Chinese police. When the police arrived on the scene they fired warning shots into the crowd, with two Tibetans sustaining gunshot wounds, including one by a monk.

Initial reports by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) and International Campaign for Tibet indicated that local Tibetans gathered outside the Tawu County detention centre, where Yeshe's body was understood to have been taken, and demanded the body be released to allow for a traditional cremation. According to TCHRD, it was at this point that police fired warning shots into the crowd.

Kalsang YesheKalsang Yeshe
(pictured right giving a teaching), was from Thewa village in Tawu county and studied for several years in exile at Ganden Jangtse monastery in South India. Upon returning to Tibet, he taught Buddhism and Tibetan language to local Tibetans and began a campaign against illiteracy amongst the elderly. He has been described as a "well-respected monk". His exact age is not clear, with various reports stating his age as between 28 and 38.

Repression has been particularly intense in the Tawu region. In July 2013, at least 10 people were injured near Nyitso village when Chinese police fired into a crowd of Tibetans peacefully celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday.

Kalsang Yeshe's self-immolation was the third to take place in Tibet in an eight-day period and the second in consecutive days. The day before, 22 December, Tsepey Kyi died after setting fire to herself in Ngaba county, Amdo (Sichuan province). On 16 December, Sangyal Khar died after self-immolating in Amchok town, Amdo (Gansu province). The last time three self-immolations took place in Tibet in such a short period of time was at the end of March 2013.

In 2014, 11 self-immolations took place in Tibet. Overall, since 2009, there have been 135 self-immolations by Tibetans in Tibet and one by a Tibetan in Beijing.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul I VOA I TCHRD I ICT
Warning: The report by VOA contains a graphic image of the self-immolation.

Take Action I Background to self-immolations

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