100th Self-Immolation Reported in Tibet ; Grim Milestone Reflects Frustration and Despair over Chinese Control

By Wong, Edward | International Herald Tribune, February 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

100th Self-Immolation Reported in Tibet ; Grim Milestone Reflects Frustration and Despair over Chinese Control


Wong, Edward, International Herald Tribune


A former monk killed himself to protest Chinese rule, advocacy groups said on a day when another Tibetan, this one in exile, died after setting himself on fire in Nepal.

A former Tibetan Buddhist monk protested Chinese rule by killing himself through self-immolation this month, becoming the 100th person to do so inside Chinese-governed Tibet since 2009, according to reports by Tibet advocacy groups.

The Tibetan man, Lobsang Namgyal, 37, formerly of Kirti Monastery, set fire to himself on Feb. 3 in front of an office of the public security bureau in a county of Sichuan Province and died on the scene, according to Free Tibet, which is based in London. Free Tibet said Wednesday in a news release that it had taken 10 days to confirm the self-immolation "because Tibetans are too frightened of Chinese state reprisals to speak about protests."

Another advocacy group, the International Campaign for Tibet, reported that monks living in exile in India who had received word of the self-immolation had said that during the act, Mr. Lobsang Namgyal called for the long life of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans.

The monks, who live in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, come from the same monastery as Mr. Lobsang Namgyal, and said he had been an exceptional student chosen to study for a Geshe degree, the highest qualification in Tibetan Buddhism.

"He was regarded as a model for a new generation of students at Kirti," the monks said in a statement translated by the International Campaign for Tibet.

The monks said Mr. Lobsang Namgyal disappeared in September and was believed to have been temporarily detained in Sichuan Province by local security forces. Officials had sought to isolate him and ruin his reputation, they said, and he continued to be under intense surveillance even after leaving for a rural nomadic area. His family had also come under pressure.

The wave of self-immolations in Tibet, which began in 2009, has brought into sharp relief the intense frustration and defiance of Tibetans, whose vast homeland came under Communist rule after Chinese troops occupied central Tibet in 1951. At least 82 of the 100 self-immolators have died.

Earlier Wednesday, a Tibetan man walked onto a street in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, which borders Tibet, and set himself on fire. He was the latest of a half-dozen Tibetans to immolate themselves outside Tibet in protest against China. Nepal is home to thousands of Tibetan exiles.

The authorities said the man, who witnesses said had been wearing monk's robes, died Wednesday night at a local hospital. …

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