Tibetan student sets fire to himself outside government office in Northeastern Tibet

Lhamo Tashi

Lhamo Tashi, who self-immolated on September 17 (2014) and died.

A Tibetan student, Lhamo Tashi, set fire to himself and has died on September 17 outside a government Public Security Bureau headquarters in Tsoe City, northeastern Tibet, where he was studying. It is the first self-immolation for five months in Tibet, and the 132nd by a Tibetan in Tibet and China. News of his self-immolation has been circulating on Chinese social media.

After setting himself on fire at around midnight, Lhamo Tashi, who was in his early twenties, was taken away by police in Tsoe City, the capital of Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province (the Tibetan area of Amdo). Tibetan sources said it was not clear whether he had died on the scene or not. When they became aware that he had set fire to himself, his family approached the authorities, who refused their request for the return of his body if he had died. Two days later on September 19, Lhamo Tashi’s family was given his ashes.

Lhamo Tashi chose the prefectural headquarters of the Public Security Bureau as the location for his self-immolation. Most Tibetans who have self-immolated have set fire to themselves either outside government offices or near monasteries.

A Tibetan in exile with contacts in the area said: “We do not know whether Lhamo Tashi had a specific message or left a note. But some local people believe that he chose the timing to coincide with Xi Jinping’s visit to India.” China’s President and Party Secretary Xi Jinping began his first visit to India as China’s leader on September 17, the day Lhamo Tashi self-immolated. The news of Lhamo Tashi’s self-immolation has circulated on Chinese social media.

Lhamo Tashi, who was studying at Tsoe Middle School, was from a village in the Tibetan area of Amchok, now part of Bora township in Sangchu (Chinese: Xiahe), Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu. He is the first Tibetan to self-immolate since Thinley Namgyal set fire to himself and died on April 15 (2014) in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu) county in Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is the seventh self-immolation in Tibet this year.

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