A young Tibetan monk carried a portrait of the Dalai Lama through the streets of Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) town around 3PM local time on Monday, May 2, 2016.
In one video that has emerged, Losang Thubten is seen walking along a busy shopping street crowded with vehicles and pedestrians, and in a second video he is seen being quick marched down the middle of the street by two security police officers on either side of him.
A source outside of Tibet has told VOA that Losang Thubten belonged to the nearby Kirti monastery whose monks have protested widely since 2009 against what they say are repressive and humiliating rules and regulations imposed on Tibetan monasteries by the authorities.
A monk from Kirti monastery carried out the first self-immolation protest inside Tibet in 2009, and since then Ngaba and the surrounding area has seen the most number of self-immolation protests, both by monks and nuns, and lay people.
Between 2009 and 2013, when the most number of self-immolation protests took place, the Chinese authority’s response to them evolved from trying to discredit the protesters as disturbed and fringe individuals in the beginning, to accusing them of separatism, often charging and imprisoning relatives and friends of collusion. Another development that has been terrifying for Tibetans is that in the more recent self-immolation cases where the person was taken away while still alive, the authorities denied access to relatives and then told them that their loved one died instead. This deeply disturbing procedure, along with the crackdown and punishment on families and friends of someone who protested against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas has resulted in fewer protests since 2013.
However since 2014, there has been a growing number of lone street protests like the one that took place today, and invariably all of the individuals were detained and have not been heard of again.
Losang Thubten’s protest is the first news that has come out of the Ngaba region this year where the authorities had shut down the internet from Tibetan New Year in early February, through to the middle April after two sensitive dates for the communist authorities in Tibet: the commemoration of the March 10, 1959 uprising against the Chinese forces in Lhasa, and the exile Tibetan government elections which went to the polls on March 20.
According to sources, the family of Losang Thubten are distraught over the fate of their son as the authorities have not informed them of his condition or whereabouts.