A photograph from Ngaba showed Tibetans in a bold celebration offering khatags (white blessing scarves) to an image of the Dalai Lama at a shrine bearing the words ‘Welcome to the 80th birthday of His Holiness’. According to tradition in the Tibetan area of Amdo, 80th birthday celebrations are particularly important.
The Chinese authorities deployed large numbers of troops in Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Qinghai prior to Tibetan New Year, and declared the importance of ‘stability’ at Losar. Tibet Autonomous Region Party chief Chen Quanguo was depicted giving paramilitary police, with some in riot gear, khatags (white blessing scarves) to security personnel on the first day of Losar (February 19, 2015), for their ‘tireless work’ over the New Year period.
As the Losar period began, there was an intensified and intimidating security buildup in areas including Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), Serthar (Chinese: Seda) and Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) in Sichuan. A local source told Radio Free Asia that from February 15, convoys of armed police began patrolling county roads in Kardze, “creating an atmosphere of intimidation”. The police were equipped with fire extinguishers, according to the same source. (Radio Free Asia report, February 18, 2015). In previous years, there have been self-immolations during the Tibetan New Year period. Last year, Lobsang Dorjee set himself on fire during the New Year prayer festival at Kirti monastery in Ngaba and died.
 ICT self-immolations factsheet, http://www.savetibet.org/resources/fact-sheets/self-immolations-by-tibetans/