A 28 year old monk named Lobsang Thokmey set himself on fire around at 2:40pm Saturday, March 16 local time. Sources in the region have stated that Thokmey poured gasoline over himself near his residence at the monastery, and after igniting himself on fire, walked towards the western gate of the monastery, before finally falling down. Witnesses have reported that the monk was holding a religious flag in his hands but could not confirm if he shouted any statements.
Monks and local Tibetans rushed Lobsang Thokmey to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries within a few hours.
A large security force arrived at the hospital and transferred the monk’s body to Barkham county against the wishes of Thokmey’s family and that of his monastery. It is customary in Tibet to conduct religious rituals and prayer services in the presence of a deceased person immediately following his or her death.
Lobsang Thokmey was born in Rangtrig Tsang, a nomadic area of Tingon (Chi: Cheng Guan) township in Ngaba County, Ngaba Tibetan and Qing Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province.
Lobsang Thokmey's father’s name is Rangtrig and his mother’s name is Tepu. He joined Kirti monastery as a child and was in his 8th year of Buddhist studies according to the traditional monastic system. Thokmey is known to be a role model for younger monks as an excellent scholar and for his socially conscious activities within his community. Lobsang Thokmey is survived by his parents, three brothers and one sister.
March 16th is a sensitive day in the region as it is the 5th anniversary of the mass shooting of protesters by security forces and the heavy crackdown of 2008. In the over 150 protests that occurred throughout the Tibetan plateau in 2008, the suppression of peaceful protesters was the most violent and unrelenting in this region of Sichuan province.
Three years after the Ngaba crackdown, a monk named Lobsang Phuntsok self-immolated in Ngaba on March 16, 2011, becoming the second Tibetan to self-immolate inside Tibet. Last year on the same day, Lobsang Tsultrim set himself on fire to continue the deadly commemoration.
Lobsang Thokmey’s self-immolation protest today is the third to take place on March 16 and the 108th self-immolation in Tibet and Tibetan regions in China.