Two Tibetan teenage relatives self-immolate in Ngaba

Two teenage Tibetans, a monk and a layperson who are believed to have been cousins, set themselves on fire yesterday (August 27) in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba). The self-immolations took place near the eastern gate of Kirti monastery, and were the 50th and 51st in Tibet since a young monk, Tapey, set fire to himself in the same area on February 27, 2009. One of the Tibetans, Lobsang Damchoe, was the younger brother of an 18-year old Tibetan nun, Tenzin Choedron, who self-immolated on February 11 this year.

Lobsang Kelsang, 18, a Kirti monk, and his relative Lobsang Damchoe, 17, a former monk, were seen walking with flames shooting from their bodies before they collapsed to the ground, according to Kirti monks in exile in Dharamsala, India. It is not known what they shouted or said as they set themselves on fire.

Chinese security personnel extinguished the flames and took them initially to the hospital in Ngaba town, Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Amdo). They were later moved to hospital in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang). According to the Kirti monks in exile, both young men died in hospital. Lobsang Palden, the roommate of Lobsang Kelsang at Kirti monastery, was taken into police custody.

Lobsang Kelsang is survived by his father, mother, and one older brother. Lobsang Damchoe, who is believed to be his cousin, is survived by his father and mother. His older sister, nun Tenzin Choedron of Mame Dechen Chokorling in Ngaba died following her self-immolation on February 11, 2012. Lobsang Damchoe was formerly a monk at Kirti, but he disrobed so that he could help his mother with her work in a nomadic area of Ngaba.

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