Tibetan nun sets fire to herself outside monastery in first self-immolation in Bathang

DolmaA Tibetan nun, reported to be 31-years-old, called Dolma set fire to herself outside a monastery on March 29, the first self-immolation in Bathang county, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Kham).

When Tibetans who were circumbulating the Ba Choede monastery, a traditional religious practice, witnessed the self-immolation, they managed to extinguish the flames and take Dolma to hospital.

The Tibetan nun, Dolma, is from a large family; three of her relatives have been identified as reincarnate lamas, and her sister is also a nun. She is believed to have made religious offerings before setting fire to herself near the circumambulation (kora) route outside Ba Choede monastery in the county town of Bathang (Chinese: Batang) in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Security was tightened in the monastery and county town, with internet connections blocked and mobile phone connections cut, according to the same Tibetan sources. Local people were not allowed access to Dolma in hospital. She is believed to have survived after receiving emergency medical treatment at the hospital, but her current condition is not known.

Three nuns from Dolma’s nunnery have disappeared, believed to be detained, following the self-immolation, according to Tibetan sources.

Ba Choede monastery in Bathang belongs to the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism and was founded by the 5th Dalai Lama. A day after Dolma’s self-immolation, butter-lamps were lit in the monastery to mark the passing of Bapa Phuntsog Wangyal, the leading writer, thinker and first Tibetan Communist who was born in Bathang and died in Beijing on March 30 at the age of 92. (ICT report, Phuntsog Wangyal Goranangpa: A formidable figure in modern Tibetan history).

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