Tibetan monk self-immolates to mark crackdown anniversary
DHARAMSALA, Mar 16: A young Tibetan monk has set himself on fire in restive Ngaba County to protest Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Khechog Palden(also known as Lobsang Palden), a 23-yr-old monk of Kirti monastery in Ngaba County in Amdo (now incorporated into Sichuan Province) set himself on fire at around 11:30 am (local time) on March 16, according to sources at the exile base of Kirti monastery located here in Dharamsala.
Palden staged his fiery protest on the street known to the local Tibetans as “Martyr’s Street”.
“After setting his gasoline soaked body on fire, Palden walked several steps while in flames and shouted slogans before Chinese police arrived at the protest site, put out the fire and bundled him away,” sources said, adding that security in the area has also been tightened with the deployment of large number of armed security forces.
Details such as his condition, whether he is alive or not and where he has been taken to could not be immediately confirmed.
Following Palden’s self-immolation protest, local Tibetans shut down their shops and restaurants to express solidarity with the self-immolator.
Citing local contacts in the region, sources at Kirti monastery said Palden set himself on fire to mark the 6th anniversary of the violent crackdown on Tibetans on Mar 16, 2008 when several Tibetans were killed after Chinese police fired on Tibetan protestors in Ngaba.
Prior to Palden, Lobsang Phuntsok, Lobsang Tsultrim and Lobsang Thokmey had set themselves on fire in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively to mark the 3rd, 4th and 5th anniversary of the Mar 16, 2008 violent crackdown on Tibetans in Ngaba.
Palden was a native of Meruma town in Ngaba and joined Kirti monastery at a young age.
With the latest self-immolation protest by Khechok Palden, the total number of known Tibetan self-immolations inside Tibet since Feb 2009 has now reached 128.
Meanwhile, another Tibetan monk is said to have self-immolated earlier on the same day in Tsekhog County in Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. However the details of the report could not be confirmed.