Teenage Tibetan monk self-immolates in south-west China

DPA Beijing | Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on July 21, 2013

An 18-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk died after setting fire to himself in south-western China’s Sichuan province, reports said on Sunday.

Kunchok Sonam self-immolated early on Saturday near his Thangkor Soktsang monastery in Ngaba prefecture, London-based Free Tibet and other groups said.

“He died between 8 am and 9 am after crying for Tibetan freedom,” US-based Radio Free Asia quoted a local resident as saying by phone.

Hundreds of Tibetans gathered at the monastery to prevent authorities from taking the body away, the reports said.

Police and local officials restricted telecommunications in the area after the protest, the latest of about 120 self-immolations by Tibetans in China since 2009.

“At 18, this young man should have had his life ahead of him,” said Free Tibet spokesman Alistair Currie.

“His terrible death would never have occurred if the men who hold power in Beijing simply granted Tibetans rights most of us take for granted: freedom to speak, freedom to worship, and freedom to decide our own futures,” Currie said.

The Tibetan exile government, based in the Indian town of Dharamsala, said the protest reflected the failure of China’s ruling Communist Party to address Tibetans’ grievances.

“The international community, including the UN and the EU parliament, have strongly urged the Chinese government to address the Tibetan people’s genuine grievances and end its policies which are pushing Tibetans to take drastic actions,” it said.

“But the Chinese government has responded to the crisis with more repressive measures such as deployment of massive security forces in the Tibetan areas and meting out death and harsh prison sentences to Tibetans on trumped-up charges.” A court in nearby Qinghai province sentenced monk Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, to 10 years in prison on July 12 after convicting him of “intentional homicide” by aiding self-immolation protests, the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

The government tightened security in most Tibetan areas last year after an escalation of self-immolations and other protests.

Police have detained dozens of Tibetans this year on charges of aiding or encouraging the immolations.

Published on July 21, 2013
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