A 27 year old Tibetan man named Lhamo Kyab protested by setting himself on fire today around 2 PM local time in Sangchu (Xiahe, in Chinese) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
According to sources in the region, Lhamo Kyab carried out his self-immolation on a street near Bora monastery and succumbed to his burns at the site. Kyab is survived by his wife Dorjee Kyab and two young daughters, Pema Tso aged 10, and Drugmo Tso aged 7.
Lhamo Kyab is said to have raised slogans while fully engulfed in flames, which called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and an end to Chinese misrule, and then fell to the ground after talking several steps.
Monks and local Tibetans carried Lhamo Kyap’s body, first to the local monastery for prayers, and then to his home.
Security forces numbering in the hundreds are reported to have been deployed to reinforce the already large numbers in this small town, and communications to the area have been cut off.
Lhamo Kyab is the fifth Tibetan to self–immolate since September 29, with four of them dying in the act and one taken into security custody while badly burnt and whose whereabouts and condition remain unknown.
56 Tibetans have carried out self immolation protests inside Tibet since 2009, with 47 dead, and the others either seriously maimed or missing after being taken into custody by security forces.
The US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, made a rare and surprising visit to Aba Prefecture in Sichuan province on September 26, but the places he visited were a 100 miles away from Ngaba, (Chinese: Aba), the town that has been the epicenter of self immolations and which has been under heavy security lockdown for much of the last two years.
Ambassador Locke told the New York Times, "I was struck by the unique Tibetan culture and met many ethnic Tibetans to learn more about how they live and work, such as an 88-year-old monk at one of the has monasteries I visited. Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society”, but did not reference the over 30 self-immolations protesting racial and cultural oppression that have taken place in the Prefecture he visited.
However, during Tuesday’s daily briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, "We have grave concerns about self-immolations in Tibet and about the underlying grievances that the Tibetan people have."
Almost all Tibetan regions under Chinese rule have been roiled by protests and self-immolations since 2008, when an uprising spread across Tibet from Lhasa, the capital. Local and central Chinese authorities have responded to each incidence with further security clampdowns and detentions, and accused the protesters with a wide range of charges: terrorists, separatists, womanizers, mentally ill, and people with domestic problems.
China’s inability or unwillingness to resolve the Tibetan protests is described in the 2012 Congressional Executive Committee on China’s annual report, which states that the, “The Party and government have not indicated any willingness to consider Tibetan grievances in a constructive manner and to hold themselves accountable for Tibetan rejection of Chinese policies, and handled the crisis as a threat to state security and social stability instead of as a policy failure.”
In January 2012, U.S. Under Secretary of State Maria Otero, who serves as Special Representative for Tibetan Issues, reiterated grave concern over Tibetan self-immolations and called on the Chinese government ‘‘to resume substantive, results- oriented dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to address the underlying grievances of China’s Tibetan population.’’
Putting the Tibet self-immolations into context, the Congressional Executive Committee on China’s annual report states, “Reports of self-immolators’ calls for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return are concurrent with increasing Chinese government and Party use of legal measures to re- press and control core elements of Tibetan culture, and with the China-Dalai Lama dialogue’s failure to achieve any sign of progress."