Nomad and Former Monk, 24, Dies After Self-immolation Protest

Yonten carried out his protest in Ngaba County, the scene of numerous self-immolation protests since 2009

A Tibetan in eastern Tibet has died after carrying out a self-immolation protest in Ngaba, eastern Tibet.

Free Tibet’s research partner, Tibet Watch, confirmed today that Yonten, 24, set himself on fire in Meruma Township on the afternoon of Tuesday, 26 November. He died of his injuries on the same day.

Yonten, who set himself alight in Ngaba County

Yonten, who set himself alight in Ngaba County

Meruma is a nomadic township. Yonten was previously a monk in nearby Kirti Monastery but later disrobed and settled as a nomad. The township has been the scene of numerous self-immolation protests over the past decade, most recently in March 2018, when Tsekho Tugchak died after setting himself on fire. Prior to that, on 23 December 2017, Kunbey, a 30-year-old monk living in Meruma Township, set himself on fire outside Kirti Monastery. Kunbey died of his injuries the following day.

There have been over 150 self-immolations across Tibet since 2009. The majority of them have been fatal.

At least 42 self-immolation protests have been recorded in Ngaba County alone. The first two Tibetans to carry out self-immolations in Tibet, Tabe in 2009 and Phuntsok in 2011, were both monks from Kirti Monastery, which has since been put under tight supervision by Chinese authorities due to the number of demonstrations and self-immolation protests carried out by its residents.

[Content warning: image of a self-immolation protest below]

Yonten's self-immolation

Yonten’s self-immolation

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