Three self-immolations in two days as total in Tibet reaches 81

  • Tamdrin Kyab, age 23 and a former Tibetan Buddhist monk, set fire to himself and died on November 23 in Luchu township, Gansu province.
  • Tamdrin Dorjee, age 29, set fire to himself in the evening of November 23 in front of a government building in Dokarmo in the Tsekhog area of Rebkong, Qinghai province. He was heard shouting for the long life of the Dalai Lama, with his hands together as if in prayer.
  • On November 22, Lubhum Gyal, age 18, died after setting himself ablaze in the main street of Dowa township, Rebkong.
  • Officials in the Rebkong area have warned Tibetans not to go to the homes of those who have self-immolated to express condolences. They also said that if monks go to pray for self-immolators, monasteries will be closed down, and that the families of self-immolators will be punished (ICT report, Young Tibetan father self-immolates in Tsekhog; officials warn Tibetans not to gather at cremations).
  • The number of Tibetan self-immolations in Tibet has reached 81 with three in two days.
Self-immolation of Tamdrin Kyab

Tamdrin Kyab, 23-years old, was formerly a monk at Shitsang monastery. He disrobed in 2007 to help his nomadic family. Tamdrin Kyab had three brothers, including one who is still a monk at the Shitsang monastery. The family was from the Palgur Nagri village in Ma Nge Shang in Luchu (Chinese: Luqu), Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan), Gansu province.

Tamdrin Kyab set fire to himself at around 10 p.m. near the Luchu river. According to exile Tibetan sources, local people did not know about his self-immolation because it happened at night, and it was only in the morning that people found his body and took it back to his home. Local Tibetans and monks from Shitsang monastery gathered at his home to pray and offer their condolences.

According to the same sources, Tamdrin Kyab had heard about the self-immolations in Tibet. He had also said that there was no reason to live without the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet.

Self-immolation of Tamdrin Dorjee

Tamdrin Dorjee, self-immolated on November 23. He was from Makor village in Dokarmo township, in the Tsekhog area of Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province. According to a Tibetan exile source, “As the flames blazed higher, he could be seen putting his hands together in prayer, shouting long life to the Dalai Lama.”

Defying official warnings, more than a thousand people gathered at the site of his self-immolation, according to the same exile sources, praying for the Dalai Lama’s long life and chanting mantras. They then gathered for the cremation of Tamdrin Dorjee.

The self-immolation of Lubhum Gyal

On November 22, Lubhum Gyal, age 18, died after setting himself ablaze in the main street of Dowa township in Rebkong. Tibetans gathered at the scene of Lubhum Gyal’s self-immolation. Then, disregarding official warnings, they took his body for cremation near Dowa monastery where monks conducted prayer rituals.

Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: ““The Tibetans who are self-immolating – now in more rapid succession – have clearly not been dissuaded by the security buildup or other means of official intimidation. Nonetheless, the authorities seem to be betting that further oppression will cower or exhaust the will of future self-immolators. But unless and until there is some initiative that can break through the cycle of repression and protest, I think we all acknowledge that more Tibetans will be prepared to take the agonizing action of self-immolation. And that is a terrible and unacceptable calculation.”

In Rebkong, several self-immolations followed a visit by officials who told Tibetans not to keep pictures of the Dalai Lama. Twenty-three year old Tamdrin Tso, who self-immolated on November 7, left a letter behind to her father, saying: ‘Father, being a Tibetan is so difficult. We can’t even say our prayer to Dalai Lama’s portrait. We have no freedom at all.’ (A collection by Woeser of last words of 19 self-immolators, published by Global Voices on November 23, 2012).

Thousands of Tibetans, including small children, marched on the streets of Rebkong on November 9 in a peaceful demonstration following emotional gatherings of Tibetans after two earlier self-immolations. (ICT report, Thousands of Tibetan students and schoolchildren gather for peaceful demonstration in Rebkong).

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