Two Tibetans self-immolate at monasteries during prayer ceremonies in Amdo

  • Tsesung Kyab, a Tibetan farmer and nomad in his late twenties, set himself ablaze on February 25 outside the main temple of Shitsang Gonsar monastery in Luchu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, eastern Tibet’s Amdo region. Tsesung Kyab’s self-immolation is the sixth self-immolation in Luchu County.
  • Phagmo Dundrup, a Tibetan farmer in his early twenties, set himself ablaze on February 24 in the monks’ debating area of Chachung monastery in Tsoshar Prefecture in Qinghai province, also in Amdo region.
  • Many of the now 106 Tibetan self-immolations have occurred with some religious context. Some Tibetans have died with their hands clasped in prayer and others have done so outside a monastery or reliquary (stupa), including during religious ceremonies. (ICT report, Storm in the Grasslands)

As the 15-day period of Tibetan New Year (Losar) draws to a close, two Tibetans set fire to themselves near monasteries and died today and yesterday (February 24 and 25). Large numbers of religious pilgrims had gathered at both monasteries for prayer ceremonies on the second to last and last day of Losar, a period of particular religious significance for Tibetans.

Tsesung Kyab set fire to himself early this afternoon (February 25) in front of the main temple of Shitsang Gonsar monastery in Luchu. Harrowing images received from inside Tibet today depict Tsesung Kyab ablaze outside the temple as pilgrims look on. Many Tibetans were at the monastery for a prayer ceremony and ritual in which monks carry the Buddha’s statue and circumambulate the monastery. The images do not depict police attempting to extinguish the flames although, according to Tibetan exile sources, there was a police presence at the monastery. According to the same sources, his body was taken to his home in Choekhor village for prayers.

Tsesung Kyab was a relative of 23-year old Pema Dorjee who lived in the same village. Pema Dorjee set fire to himself on December 8, 2012, also at Shitsang Gonsar monastery, during a religious ceremony marking the anniversary of the passing of Tsongkhapa, a famous Buddhist teacher and founder of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Phagmo Dundrup self-immolated on February 24 evening when hundreds of Tibetans were present at the Chachung monastery, an important and ancient Gelugpa monastery, for a traditional prayer ceremony and presentation of butter-lamps of the Buddha and other deities. According to information from Tibetan sources in exile, monks tried to extinguish the flames after Phagmo Dondrup set himself ablaze. The monks took him to the hospital but he passed away last night in a hospital in Xining, the provincial capital of Qinghai, a two- to three-hour drive from Chachung monastery. Phagmo Dundrup was born in a village around one kilometre from Chachung monastery in Bayan Khar (Chinese: Hualong) Hui Autonomous County. He is survived by his parents, and one brother and sister.

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