26-year-old monk carries out self-immolation protest in Tibet
Protester’s fate unknown due to communication shutdown
26-year-old Sonam Topgyal set himself on fire between 5 and 6pm (local time) yesterday, 9 July 2015 near Gesar Square in Kyegundo, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (1).
Police immediately took control of the incident site, and the entire area was blocked off by armed security forces in the main streets shortly afterwards. Movement restrictions are in place in the area and phone and internet services were shut down shortly after news of the protest began to spread locally.
Sonam Topgyal was taken to a local hospital following his protest. Because of the communication restrictions, information about whether he survived is not yet available.
Sonam Topgyal is a native of Nangchen (Ch: Nangqian) County in Yushu TAP and studied at Derge Dzongsar Monastery Monastery. His family home has been surrounded by police and local people describe “intense fear” in the area.
Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren says:
“In 2013, China responded to the crescendo of self-immolations by introducing threats to punish the families and communities of self-immolation protesters. While collective punishment is illegal under international law, it appears to have been a successful tactic. Nevertheless, Sonam Topgyal is the sixth Tibetan to set himself alight this year and his protest is a potent reminder that the depth of Tibetan opposition to China’s rule is as profound as ever.
“China also holds the Dalai Lama responsible for self-immolations but his continued exile and China’s vilification of him is one of the grievances that motivate Tibetans to set themselves alight.” [2,3]
Sonam Topgyal's father's name is Nangchen Tashi and his mother's name is Bode. He has 5 siblings.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch.
For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet media manager Alistair Currie:
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605
Notes to editors
Location: Kyegudo, Yushu county, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province
Collective punishment is prohibited by Article 33 of the Geneva Convention
The last self-immolation in Tibet was by Sangy Tso on May 27. Full list of self-immolation protesters