Self-immolation of Tibetan father of two in Tsekhog

UPDATE: FEBRUARY 14, 2014 Tibetan sources told Radio Free Asia that Phagmo Samdrub died probably on the same day and his remains were cremated by the Chinese authorities.

According to the sources, “Chinese security forces took his body on Feb. 6 to Ziling [in Chinese, Xining] prefecture, and the next day his remains were cremated and his ashes thrown in Machu River [Yellow River].” (RFA report, New Rules to Prevent Tibetan Burning Protests in Sichuan County – February 13, 2013).


Phagmo Samdup

Phagmo Samdup with his family.

A Tibetan man in his late twenties called Phagmo Samdup set himself on fire on February 5 in Dokarmo town in Tsekhog (Chinese: Zeku) in Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai, the Tibetan area of Amdo, according to Tibetan sources. It is the first self-immolation of 2014, five years on from the first self-immolation in Tibet of Kirti monk Tapey in February, 2009.

Phagmo Samdup set fire to himself at around 9.30 pm in the evening. It appears that not many people were outside to witness the self-immolation. Police on patrol extinguished the fire and took Phagmo Samdup away, and it is not known if he survived, Tibetan sources said, adding he had been taken to Tsekhog county town.

Following the self-immolation, there was a conspicuous intensification of security in the Tsekhog area with a buildup of paramilitary police, and communications to the area including phone calls were blocked.

According to Tibetan sources in exile in contact with others in the area, Phagmo Samdup was a lay Tantric Buddhist practitioner who lived with his wife and two young children. He was the 126th Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009 in Tibet and China.

Phagmo Samdup is the fifth Tibetan in the Tsekhog area to self-immolate. On December 9, 2012, 17-year old student Wangchen Kyi died after setting fire to herself in Dokarmo. She called for the long life of the Dalai Lama and of the Tibetan people as she set herself ablaze. A month before her death, in November, 2012, three Tibetans died after self-immolating in Tsekhong; 24-year old Sangdag Tsering, who had frequently spoken about the need for the Dalai Lama to be in Tibet, a young Tibetan nun called Sangay Dolma, and a 29-year old Tibetan man called Tamdrin Dorjee, who could be seen putting his hands together in prayer, shouting long life to the Dalai Lama while ablaze. (ICT, Self-immolations by Tibetans).

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