Thursday, March 3, 2016
Protesting Chinese Rule, Tibetan Monk Dies After Setting Himself Ablaze
MARCH 3, 2016
BEIJING — A young Tibetan monk died this week after setting himself on fire in Sichuan Province to protestChinese rule, according to a Tibet advocacy group. It was the first known act of self-immolation in a Tibetan area of China since August.
The monk, Kalsang Wangdu, 18, set fire to himself on Monday, according to Free Tibet, a group based in London. On the same day, a 16-year-old Tibetan student, Dorjee Tsering, did so in the Indian city of Dehradun while shouting “Free Tibet,” the group said. He survived and was in a hospital in New Delhi.
On Tuesday, a professor at Duke University posted on Twitter a photograph of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, holding up a black-and-white photoof a young Tibetan said to be Mr. Dorjee.
More than 140 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest in Tibetan regions of China since 2009, starting in Ngaba County, a focal point for demonstrations against Beijing’s rule. Many of the initial self-immolations were carried out by monks, but a growing number of laypeople, including nomads and farmers, have since taken part.
Mr. Kalsang set himself on fire at 4 p.m. outside his monastery, Retsokha Aryaling, in what the Tibetans call Kardze Prefecture, according to Free Tibet. Kardze, whose Chinese name is Ganzi, has been a prominent site of protests against the Chinese authorities.
Free Tibet said that Mr. Kalsang had called for “Tibet’s complete independence” while self-immolating. Passers-by doused him with water, the group said; he was taken to a county hospital and later to one in Chengdu, the provincial capital, but died en route. Radio Free Asia, a news service funded by the United States government, also reported Mr. Kalsang’s death.
Free Tibet also said that a Tibetan woman, Mang Gha, 33, was detained on Tuesday after walking through a town in Ngaba Prefecture, which includes Ngaba County, holding up a portrait of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who fled to India in 1959. Chinese officials have deemed it illegal to display images of the Dalai Lama, who it accuses of fomenting plots against China, anywhere in the nation.
The Dalai Lama’s escape to India in 1959 took place during an uprising that began in March, and each year, the Chinese government fears protests in Tibetan areas as the uprising’s anniversary approaches. In March 2008, widespread demonstrations that unfolded across the Tibetan Plateau struck fear into the Communist Party’s top leaders, who deployed paramilitary troops to suppress the unrest.
Last month, the authorities began barring foreign tourists from going to central Tibet, known as the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to an advocacy group based in Washington, the International Campaign for Tibet. The shutdown is expected to last until the end of March.
Also last month, a court in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, sentenced a popular Tibetan blogger, Druklo, to three years in prison after he had been detained for a year, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The blogger, who writes under the pseudonym Shokjang, has advocated true Tibetan autonomy within China, the same position that the Dalai Lama takes.
Tibetans last month celebrated their new year, Losar, another time when the Chinese authorities are on the watch for protests.
On Thursday, Yu Zhengsheng, a top Communist Party official who is the chairman of a legislative advisory committee, addressed the issue of China’s ethnic policies at the opening session of the committee’s annual meeting in Beijing. “We promoted ethnic unity and religious harmony to bring together the will and strength of the people,” he said, according to China Central Television, the state network.