Two monks set themselves on fire on Sunday in separate incidences in Tibetan regions of China’s Qinghai and Sichuan provinces.
Losang Palden, in his 20s, and belonging to Kirti Monastery in Ngaba prefecture, Sichuan province, set himself ablaze around 11:40 AM local time. Kanyag Tsering, spokesperson for the India-based Kirti Monastery, told VOA that Palden’s immolation was in protest of the continuing crackdown and repression in the region
The same source stated that Palden doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire on the road known locally as ‘Heroes’ Street’, and that he was heard to have shouted slogans that could not be clearly heard.
Citing sources in the area, Kanyag Tsering said that soon after the monk was in flames, Chinese security personnel arrived at the scene and took Palden away in a small vehicle. Palden’s condition and whereabouts are not known at this reporting.
Losang Palden became a monk at the monastery in Amdo Ngaba at a young age and had a younger brother who is also a monk at the same monastery. His mother’s name is Namkho and his step-father’s name is Sherab. To show their solidarity, Tibetans in Amdo Ngaba closed their restaurants and shops soon after learning of the self-immolation.
Sources in the region have stated that strict restrictions have been imposed in the area, with both uniformed and plain clothes Chinese security personnel patrolling the streets.
The second self-immolation on Sunday was carried out by a monk from Shaderi Monastery in Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai province according to Xinhua news service. The report stated that the police were rushing to the site, but gave no further details.
AP reported that a man at the Zekog county public security bureau confirmed the immolation and said that it took place outside the monastery. He said that he had no other information and refused to be identified. Tibetan sources also confirmed the incident, but say that all communication in the area had been cut off soon after the incidence.
The above self-immolation bring the total number of self-immolations in Tibet since February 2009 to 129.
China has enacted laws that criminalize self-immolations and have arrested and handed heavy sentences to people related or connected to past self-immolators, while also painting a picture of the individuals carrying out the self-immolations as being marginal people in society.
The exile-based Central Tibetan Administration in northern India has repeatedly urged China to end political repression and religious persecution in Tibet, and urged Tibetans inside Tibet not to resort to drastic actions, including self-immolation.
The US government has called on China to resolve the Tibetan issue through dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, and to respect the human rights and religious freedom of Tibetans.