Tsering Phuntsok, a father of two young children has self-immolated and died in Drachen township in Ngaba Prefecture. Phuntsok carried out his act in the town square named Thundril Thang which means ‘unity square’ at 3:15 pm local time on January 18, 2013. This is the second self-immolation to have taken place in the Tibetan region with the other one having also taken place in the same Tibetan prefecture which is located in today’s Sichuan province.
VOA Tibetan received a photograph which shows Phuntsok badly charred and still in flames on the town square with a crowd of Tibetans surrounding him. Sources in the diaspora Tibetan community and exile Tibetan news sites are also reporting that the site of Phuntsok’s immolation in the square is close to a police station. This conforms with several previous immolations in Tibet where the protests were carried out in front of either a security, administrative or judicial building which Tibetans see as representing China’s policies and their implementation in Tibet.
Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene of Phuntsok’s immolation and took his body into custody.
Phuntsok’s immolation, coming at a time when authorities in the region are using force, detention and criminal prosecution for anyone remotely affiliated with someone self-immolating, and monetary incentives and disincentives to control the protests is an indication that stopping individuals from self-immolating is not an achievable objective using punishment and money alone.
Tsering Phuntsok is the 98th Tibetan to have carried out self-immolation protests inside Tibet and Tibetan prefectures. Phuntsok is survived by his wife and two children.