24-year-old Tibetan sets himself on fire in eastern Tibet

A photo released by the Central Tibetan Administration of Pema Gyaltsen (Tibet.net)
A photo released by the Central Tibetan Administration of Pema Gyaltsen (Tibet.net)

19th March 2017

Police and security forces deployed to area while vigil is held in Dharamsala

A 24-year-old Tibetan man carried out a self-immolation protest in Kardze, eastern Tibet yesterday.

Pema Gyaltsen, also known as Pegyal, set himself on fire at around 4pm local time near Tsokha monastery in Kardze, Kardze.

Following Pema Gyaltsen's self-immolation, large numbers of Chinese police and security personnel arrived at Tsokha Monastery and took him away. The internet in Kardze has also been cut.

Pema Gyaltsen's present whereabouts and condition, including whether or not he survived, are currently unknown.

Police crackdown, communications cut

The scale of the police presence in Kardze was shown in a minute-long video that emerged on social media today. The video, taken from a window above a street in Kardze, shows police and security forces walking up and down the street.

The Chinese authorities take self-immolation protests very seriously, with the sites of such protests frequently locked down by police and with their communications blocked. Family members and witnesses are also routinely arrested.

Nyarong was the site of a previous self-immolation protest in 2016. In March of that year, 18-year-old Kalsang Wangdu set himself on fire near his monastery in Nyarong County.  He died of his wounds shortly after carrying out his protest

Over 140 Tibetans have carried out self-immolation protests in Tibet since 2009. Many of their protests were fatal.

Sacrifices remembered

There is currently no further information on Pema Gyaltsen, who is the first Tibetan to carry out a self-immolation protest in 2017. The last self-immolation in Tibet was carried out by Tashi Rabten in Machu County, Kanlho, eastern Tibet, in December 2016.

A candle-lit vigil for Pema Gyaltsen was held by Tibetans in exile in Dharamsala, India, this evening (local time). Pictures from the vigil are below.

Take action

Tibetans continue to resist the occupation through protests, demonstrations and by expressing their unique culture. For their defiance they are punished with harassment, arrest and long prison sentences. Take action for Tibet’s political prisoners by writing to the Chinese authorities and telling them that the world is watching.