Tibetan man heard calling for return of Dalai Lama as he sets fire to himself

Tashi Rabten

Tashi Rabten set fire to himself on December 8 and died in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) in Gansu.

A Tibetan man was heard calling for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet as he set fire to himself on December 8 and died in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) in Gansu, the Tibetan area of Amdo.

The Tibetan man, who has been named as Tashi Rabten, self-immolated on the same street of the county town where his relative, 20 year old Tsering Kyi, set fire to herself and died on March 3, 2012, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.[1] Video and images depicted a body engulfed in flames with a young boy looking on, and a woman standing nearby reciting prayers. A second video circulating on social media shows police arriving to take away the body.[2]

It is the third self-immolation in Tibet this year after Sonam Tso, a Tibetan mother of five, burned herself to death in Dzoege, Ngaba, on March 23 (2016).[3] There have been more than 140 self-immolations across the plateau since 2009.

According to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, and other Tibetan sources, Tashi’s wife, two children and other relatives have been detained by the county police after they sought the return of his body. The CCP authorities have responded to the wave of self-immolations across Tibet with an intensified wave of repression that has led to the convictions, detention without trial, or disappearance of nearly 100 Tibetans by using a quasi-legal framework to criminalize them. New measures The new measures, adopted in December, 2012, have resulted in a spike in political imprisonments, including one instance of the death penalty, and numerous cases of Tibetans being ‘disappeared’, with family and friends unaware of whether or not they are still alive, often for weeks or months. This is believed to have been a factor in the decreased number of self-immolations compared to previous years.[4]

Tashi Rabten was in his early thirties and from Teushul village in Machu county, in Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu. According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, he set himself on fire at the same place in Machu town, in the vegetable market, where his relative, teenager Tsering Kyi, set fire to herself in March, 2012.

Some Tibetan media reports indicate that he has made an appeal before committing his self-immolation. ICT will have an update on this later.


Footnotes:
[1] Report, December 9, 2016, http://tchrd.org/tibetan-man-dies-of-self-immolation-protest-family-demand-police-to-return-body/

[2] See report at http://tibet.net/2016/12/a-tibetan-self-immolates-in-tibet/

[3] Sonam Tso, a Tibetan mother of five believed to be in her fifties, self-immolated on March 23 near a monastery in Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo’ergai) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, according to Radio Free Asia. See ICT factsheet https://www.savetibet.org/resources/fact-sheets/self-immolations-by-tibetans/

[4] ICT report, July 31, 2014, https://www.savetibet.org/new-wave-of-repression-in-tibet-following-quasi-legal-response-to-self-immolations/

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