DHARAMSALA, Dec 24: A 37-yr-old Tibetan monk of Nyatso monastery in eastern Tibet has died shortly after setting himself on fire in protest against the Chinese government’s repressive rule in Tibet.
According to a reliable source, Kelsang Yeshi of Nyatso monastery in Tawu County staged his fiery protest at around 11 am (local time) on Dec 23 in front of the office of Chinese police stationed there to monitor the activities of the monastery. While engulfed in flames, Kelsang raised slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Within minutes he died at the protest site succumbing to his burn injuries. Chinese police arrived shortly at the site and bundled away Kelsang’s charred body to the County police station. Despite requests from the local Tibetans to return the body, the police did not yield to their demands.
The source said that currently the situation in the area is tense as altercation between the local Tibetans and the police might happen any time if the police do not return Kelsang’s body. All communications channels in the area have been locked down following the protest, making it difficult to attain further information.
Born to father Dorjee and mother Jampa Lhamo, Kelsang Yeshi was a native of Kunor Village in Mazur Township in Tawu County in former Kham Province of Tibet. Earlier, after escaping from Tibet, Kelsang Yeshi had studied at Gaden Jangtse monastery in Southern India. Later after returning back to Tibet, he taught basic tenets of Buddhism to local Tibetans in Nyatso monastery. He also taught Tibetan language to poor Tibetan children and elderly Tibetans in the area, and was widely respected among local Tibetans.
It is the third fatal self-immolation protest, within a span of nine days, to have taken place in Tibet against Chinese government’s repressive rule in Tibet.
On Dec 16, Sangay Khar, 30 died after setting himself ablaze in front of the Chinese police station in Amchok Township in Sangchu County former Amdo Province of Tibet.
On Dec 22, Tsepe Kyi, a 20-yr-old Tibetan woman set herself on fire at around 2 pm (local time) in Meruma Township in Ngaba County in Amdo and succumbed to her burn injuries within minutes into her fiery protest.
In all the three self-immolation protests, Chinese police have bundled away the charred bodies of self-immolators despite requests from the local Tibetans to return the bodies to their families.
In the past, on several occasions Chinese authorities have returned only the ashes of the Tibetan self-immolators, depriving family members of the self-immolators, the right to perform last rites for the deceased.