Tibetan self-immolations and their impact expand

  • 31st Tibetan self-immolation is reported in eastern Tibet
  • Tibetan who self-immolated in New Delhi, India on March 26 dies in hospital
  • Indian police ‘preventive detention’ of local Tibetans continues in Delhi

A 20-year old Tibetan monk called Sherab set fire to himself and died yesterday (March 28) in Cha township, Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) in eastern Tibet, according to monks from Kirti monastery in exile, becoming the 31st Tibetan in Tibet to self-immolate (ICT, Self-immolation fact sheet). The news emerged from Tibet on the same day as another young Tibetan, Jamphel Yeshi, succumbed to his injuries following self-immolation on March 26 in New Delhi, prior to the visit of Chinese President and Party Secretary Hu Jintao to the Indian capital.

According to Kirti monks living in exile in Dharamsala, India, paramilitary police in Ngaba removed Sherab’s body immediately following his self-immolation, ignoring pleas for his body to be handed over to his family. Sherab had been a monk at the small Ganden Tenpeling monastery in Raruwa since the age of nine. Last October he went to study at Kirti monastery in Ngaba, but had returned home on March 26, 2012. According to a Kirti monk in exile, “These days some 300 Chinese government officials of various positions and rank are stationed at Kirti monastery, and throughout Ngaba armed police and special police forces maintain a security clampdown.”

Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan in his twenties died at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi yesterday (March 29) morning, hours before Chinese President and Party Secretary Hu Jintao arrived in the city for a summit of emerging market nations. Jamphel Yeshi, who was from the Tawu area of Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) in eastern Tibet, arrived in India several years ago. The Tibetan Youth Congress, a Tibetan organization in exile, reported the news of his death yesterday morning (see here). Jamphel Yeshi left behind a letter (translated by Bhuchung D Sonam at: Burning Tibet, ‘….the day has come to sacrifice your life’). In the letter, Jamphel Yeshi writes: “Freedom is the basis of happiness for all living beings. Without freedom, six million Tibetans are like a butter lamp in the wind, without direction. My fellow Tibetans from Three Provinces, it is clear to us all that if we put our strength together, there will be results. So, don’t be disheartened.” The “Three Provinces” refers to the traditional Tibetan areas of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo re-constituted by the Chinese as the Tibet Autonomous Region and various Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces.

Emotions are running high among Tibetans in Delhi following the self-immolation of Jamphel Yeshi, with a significant police presence in the Tibetan refugee settlement of Majnukatilla in the north of the city, and a number of ‘preemptive detentions’ of Tibetan activists by Indian police. Jamphel Yeshi’s self-immolation occurred during an otherwise peaceful gathering of “at least 600 Tibetan protesters from India’s Tibetan community-in-exile,” according to a New York Times report (New York Times, Tibetan Exile Sets Self Afire in Protest Act – 26 March 2012) in advance of the scheduled visit of the Chinese president to New Delhi for the March 29, 2012 BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.

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