Two young monks set fire to themselves

30th March 2012

Twin self-immolations of two young monks

Tenpa Dargye, aged 22, and Choemi Palten, aged 21 (pictured right), set fire to themselves today, 30 March 2012. The young monks are two of over 30 Tibetans to self-immolate since March 2011 in protest at Chinese policies in Tibet.

The immolations took place in Barkham Town, the capital of Barkham County, Ngaba, Eastern Tibet at approximately 12:30 (local time).

The condition and whereabouts of the two monks cannot be confirmed by Free Tibet at this time.

Previous political "offences"

Choemi has a history of political activism. In 2010 he was detained in Lhasa for carrying a picture of the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan flag and having a Tibetan song, “Sound of Unity”, on his mobile, all of which are illegal under Chinese rule.

Both monks have studied at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba where many of the monks who have self-immolated over the past year came from.

Denied travel to Ngaba

Tenpa and Choemi travelled 80kms from their monastery in Tsodun Township to the county capital to make their protest.

Other monks from the Tsodun monastery attempted to travel to Barkham Town following the twin self-immolations, but they were forced to return to their monastery by Chinese state security forces.

There are reports of an increased number of Chinese state security forces deployed in the area following the self-immolations.

Update 2 April: Free Tibet can confirm that Choemi Palten has died from wounds sustained during his self-immolation; Tenpa Dargye remains in a critical condition.

Following the double self-immolation on 30 March, around 100 monks and lay people gathered at 21:00 at the hospital where the young monks were being treated. Many protesters were detained as a result of their demands for information on the monks’ well-being and permission to visit them.

During the night, local people also described a standoff between protestors and hordes of Chinese security personnel approaching Kirti monastery at 00:00 (midnight). The monastery’s Democratic Committee mediated the confrontation.

Eventually, Choemi Palten was announced dead and cremated by Chinese authorities at approximately 05:00 on 31 March. A portion of his ashes was returned to Kirti monastery, where a prayer ceremony was held.

More than 40 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire in protest at the repressive Chinese occupation of their country. See the full list.