Tibetan self-immolations escalate in number on eve of China’s Party Congress; Tibetans gather en masse in Rebkong

  • Hundreds of Tibetans gathered today (November 8) in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) following the self-immolation and death of a Tibetan nomad called Jinpa Gyatso.
  • A similarly emotional outpouring occurred at the scene of a young mother’s self-immolation yesterday (November 7), when an unprecedented number of five Tibetan self-immolations occurred in one day, including a triple self-immolation by young monks in Ngaba.
  • The self-immolation yesterday (November 7) of a Tibetan man in Bankar village, Driru county in Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region was reported by the Tibetan exile government and Tibetan language services of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Details of that self-immolation are not known.
  • The frequency of self-immolations in Tibet has escalated in recent weeks, reaching a total of 69 confirmed incidents since February, 2009. (ICT Fact Sheet)

Ngoshul monastery

Ngoshul monastery, Ngaba (Chinese: Aba). Three monks from Ngoshul monastery set themselves on fire on November 7, 2012.

An emotionally-charged gathering of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Tibetans occurred today (November 8) following Jinpa Gyatso’s self-immolation and death in the square outside Rongpo monastery in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province (the Tibetan area of Amdo). As Jinpa Gyatso set himself ablaze, he could be heard shouting for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, according to a Tibetan source in exile. His body was taken by local Tibetans to an area where high lamas are cremated. According to other exile sources, following the cremation, Tibetans began to gather at the square where Jinpa had died, and some shouted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s long life and his return to Tibet. The situation remains tense.

Tibetans responded with similarly strong emotion to the self-immolation yesterday (November 7) of Tamdrin Tso, a 23-year old mother of a six-year old boy. Tamdrin Tso set herself on fire and died in the center of the Drorong Po village in Dowa township in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren). According to Tibetans sources in exile, local Tibetans had noticed Tamdrin Tso praying for Tibetans who had self-immolated: “She said Mani mantra [mantras associated with the Dalai Lama] and took vows about fasting and not drinking. Also she prayed and offered butter lamps in the monastery. Local people said that even though Tamdrin Tso did all of these things, in the end she could not bear it. And she set fire to herself.”

Although it was in the evening yesterday when news of Tamdrin Tso’s self-immolation spread, hundreds of local people gathered at the scene, with many of them calling for the long life of the Dalai Lama and for him to return home. The same Tibetan sources in exile said: “People from far away and monks went to Tamdrin Tso’s village to pay their respects and offer condolences. People said that there were over 300 vehicles at the spot of self-immolation.”

On the eve of the November 8 opening of the Party Congress in Beijing, three young monks from Ngoshul monastery in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Amdo) set themselves on fire; one died, while two were believed to have survived and to have been taken away by the authorities. According to Tibetan monks in exile from Kirti monastery, the three monks set fire to themselves at around 3 pm yesterday (November 7) calling out for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet and for a free Tibet. One of the monks, 15-year old Dorjee, died immediately while 16-year old Samdrup and 16-year old Dorjee Kyab survived and were taken away by the authorities. Tibetan exile sources said that there has been a heavy military buildup in the area, including in Ngoshul monastery, and that people are now not able to go outside their homes. Ngoshul monastery, which is of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism, has a population of just over 100 monks.

Dolma Square

Dolma Square in front of the Rongpo monastery in Rebkong where Jinpa Gyatso set himself on fire and died.

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