Two monks set selves on fire in protest on massacre anniversary

Kirti monastery monk Lobsang Palden in an undated file photo.

Kirti monastery monk Lobsang Palden in an undated file photo. Photographer unknown

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 16 March 2014

Two Tibetan Buddhist monks have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet, according to exile Tibetan sources.

One of the monks was from Kirti monastery in Amdo Ngaba (Ch: Aba, Sichuan), and the other was from Amdo Tsekhog (Ch: Zeku, Qinghai).

The monk from Tsekhog, who has not been identified, self-immolated around 7am Beijing time on Saturday, outside a monastery (Ch: Xiade Monastery) in Tsekhog in Malho (Ch: Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai). The monk kept walking while his body was on fire. Other details are not immediately known.

On the same day around 11:30am, Lobsang Palden protested by setting himself ablaze in what’s known as the “Heroes’ Street” outside the Kirti Temple in Amdo Ngaba, northeastern Tibet. He was immediately taken away by Chinese police. His whereabouts and well-being remain unknown. Chinese officials have refused to give any information to Palden’s family.

Palden left a note which has been translated as: “Keep cordial relations with people around the world, especially our neighbour Chinese. Relations founded on love and mutual respect will enable people to understand our opinion and receive practical help. Another thing to remind you is the importance of fulfilling collective interests rather than being selfish; because happiness is rooted in altruism and unity.”

The 16th of March marks the biggest Tibetan uprising in Amdo Ngaba in 2008, during the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Today is the sixth anniversary of that day, when armed Chinese police shot dead scores of Tibetan protesters in Amdo Ngaba, and has become known as “Ngaba Massacre Day”. The crackdown that followed resulted in many Tibetans killed and hundreds jailed.

As of this date 128 Tibetans have self-immolated, and many have died. The self-immolators have called for the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.

This year has seen two previous self-immolations. Lobsang Dorje, a former monk of Ngaba, eastern Tibet, set fire to himself on 13 February during the New Year prayer festival at Kirti monastery in Ngaba County. Police put out the fire and immediately took him away. Lobsang Dorje died in hospital in Barkham on Sunday 16 February.

Phakmo Samdup, of Malho, eastern Tibet, a father of two, set himself alight on 5 February near a school in Dokarmo township. He died at the scene and his body was taken away by Chinese authorities.

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