Two teenagers protesting repression in Tibet have died from twin self-immolations that took place around 9:30pm local time. Rinchen, 17 and Sonam Dhargyal, 18, set themselves on fire in Kyangtsa region of Dzoge County, Ngaba Prefecture (Chinese: Aba). Lobsang Yeshi, spokesperson for the Dharamsala-based Kirti Monastery, told VOA Tibetan Service that the two teenagers died on the scene of their protest, and their families were in possession of their bodies.
Rinchen is survived by his father Dhondup Tsering, and Sonam Dhargyal is survived by his father Tsering Dhondup and mother Takho. The latest self-immolations brings the total number of cases inside Tibet and Tibetan regions to 104, with 88 resulting in death.
Following the latest immolations, the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala again called on the international community to put pressure on Beijing to allow independent observers to visit Tibet to investigate the causes for increasing number of Tibetans resorting to self-immolations.
As part of a simultaneous world-wide prayer service, Dharmsala, the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration, held a special prayer session today for all Tibetans who have died or become injured through carrying out such protests. Speaking at the prayer service, Kalon (cabinet minister) Dolma Gyari said that, “the international community should press China to open up Tibet to independent fact-finding missions and the international media to probe the root causes of the crisis.”
Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden says that self-immolation protests by such young people highlights the plight of Tibetan children who “face all the challenges of life under oppression, and are often full participants” in the Tibetan struggle for freedom.
Past self-immolators have called for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. The self-immolations in Tibet started in February 2009 with many Tibetans describing them as being protests against China’s repressive policies in Tibet and Tibetan regions. China denies the charge and describes the self-immolations as being acts of separatism incited by the ‘dalai clique’, and has carried out mass arrests and handed out heavy sentences to Tibetans they say encouraged the self-immolations.