Tibetan monk dies in protest on anniversary of fatal shootings

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Exactly five years after Chinese security forces killed 13 protestors by firing into an unarmed crowd in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, Lobsang Thokmey, 28, set himself alight at the gates of the town’s Kirti monastery (1) yesterday afternoon, 16 March. He is the third monk from the monastery to self-immolate on the anniversary of the shootings, following similar protests in 2011 and 2012.

Lobsang Thokmey (portrait photograph available, 2) was taken to hospital by members of the community, where he subsequently died. Witnesses report a “huge” military presence in the hospital and that security forces forcibly removed his body to the local state capital.

Ngaba and the local Kirti monastery are a centre of resistance to Chinese rule and the site of many demonstrations. On 16 March 2008, security forces fired into a crowd of hundreds of protesters, including monks and lay people. 13 deaths were confirmed, including that of sixteen-year-old girl named Lundhup Tso (3,4). In March 2011, a Kirti monk named Phuntsog set himself alight on the anniversary of the killings (5). More than 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since and Phuntsog’s protest is widely seen as the trigger for the continuing wave of self-immolations (6).

Free Tibet spokesperson Alistair Currie said:

“The cause of self-immolation in Tibet is Chinese repression, and the murder of unarmed protesters in Ngaba in 2008 is a central event in the recent history of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule. Lobsang Thokmey is the third person to mark that event by killing himself and protests will continue as long as China continues to deny freedom to Tibet.

"China must recognise that violence by the state will only serve to fuel protests and as Xi Jinping assumes the presidency, he must end human rights violations in Tibet and allow self-determination for the Tibetan people.”


Notes for editors

(1) Location: Location: Kirti monastery, nr Ngaba, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), eastern Tibet. Chinese: Aba, Aba TAP, Sichuan Province.
(2) Photograph of Lobsang Thokmey at http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/8565130890/in/photostream
(3) See http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/pictures-dead-kirti-monastery
(4) See http://tibetwatch.org/Free%20Tibet%20and%20Tibet%20Watch%20submission%20to%20the%20UNCRC%20November%202012.pdf
(5) See http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/monk-dies-after-self-immolation On the anniversary in 2012, Lobsang Tsultrim set himself alight at Kirti and later died http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/monk-raises-his-fist-freedom
(6) Full list of self-immolators at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet

Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected

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