By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 4 December 2013
A Tibetan youth has set himself on fire in a town in northeastern Tibet on Tuesday to protest against the repressive Chinese rule in Tibet, according to exile Tibetan sources.
Kunchok Tsetan, 30, lit himself on fire in the main market of Meruma town in Ngaba. He raised slogans for the long life and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and the early reunion of Tibetans in Tibet.
Police and security forces immediately arrived at the spot to take Tsetan into their custody. But the local Tibetans prevented them from doing so, resulting in clashes between the two sides. The police then managed to take Tsetan away after arresting several Tibetans, including his wife and some relatives.
At the time of filing this report Tsetan’s well-being and whereabouts were not known.
All the shops and restaurants in the area remained closed, while mobile phones of Tibetans were confiscated as the Chinese government stepped up security across the region.
Kunchok Tsetan, a father of two, comes from Chukhama village in Machu county, which is incorporated into today’s Gansu Province. He had reportedly told a relative this summer that he would set himself on fire to protest against the Chinese atrocities on Tibetans. The relative advised him not to take his own life.
He became the 123rd Tibetan to have self-immolated since Tapey’s immolation in 2009.
“Tibetans inside Tibet are living under heavy repression. There is a total clampdown on any conventional means to express their grievances,” said Mr Tashi Phuntsok, Secretary for Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration.
“These conditions have led to the growing number of self-immolations inside Tibet. We implore Chinese leadership to address the grievances of Tibetans immediately.”
He further added that “The only way to end this brutal and grave situation is for China to change its current hardline Tibet policy by respecting the aspirations of the Tibetan people.”
The Central Tibetan Administration has consistently appealed to and discouraged Tibetans from drastic action, including self-immolation, as a form of protest.
The CTA has stated that the blame as well as the solution for the self-immolations lies with the Chinese government.