Self-immolation by nun in eastern Tibet

Friday, 10 April 2015

Taken from scene by police; current condition unknown

A 47 year old woman has self-immolated in protest in eastern Tibet. Yeshi Khando, a nun, set herself on fire on Wednesday 8 April at around 9am local time.

On the morning of 8 April, Yeshi Khando (picture, 1) of Ngangang Nunnery, circumambulated (2) around Kardze Monastery and then set herself alight at Kubumshab, near the County police station in Kardze County, Sichuan Province. (3)

As she was on fire, she called out the slogans "Let His Holiness Return to Tibet”, “Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama” and “Tibet Needs Freedom”.

Security personnel and police arrived at the scene of her protest. They used fire extinguishers to put out the flames and took Yeshi Khando away. It is not currently known whether she survived or died although witnesses believe that she was close to death and relatives and people in the local area have carried out funeral services for her.

On 9 April, Yeshi Khando's family were summoned by the County authorities for unknown reasons.

The town remains quiet without any extra deployment of armed security personnel or police - normal practice by the authorities following self-immolations and other protests.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“While many Tibetans are turning to other forms of protest, Yeshi Khando’s action shows us that some still feel self-immolation is the only way to express the depth of their grievance. Once again, we hear calls for Tibetan freedom and for the country to be reunited with its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. And as China attempts to turn Tibetan monasteries into instruments of its own propaganda, this latest protest makes clear how misguided and counterproductive the ongoing repression of Tibet is.”

The Communist party Secretary in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has recently called for greater shows of loyalty to the state from monks and nuns (4). Although Kardze Prefecture is outside the TAR, restrictions on religious freedom and state interference in the affairs of monasteries and nunneries is ubiquitous throughout Tibet.


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Notes to editors

(1) Yeshi Khando is a native of Draksur Village in Tsogo Township of Drango County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province (Ch: Chonggu, Luhuo County, Ganzi Prefecture). Portrait photograph available on Free Tibet's Flickr (note picture of Dalai Lama behind Yeshi Khando – images of the Dalai Lama are banned throughout most of Tibet)

(2) In Tibetan, this act of circumambulation is called Kora. Tibetan Buddhists circumambulate monasteries and sacred sites to accumulate merit.

(3) Location: Kardze, Kardze County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. (Ch: Ganzi County, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan Province)