The great monastery town of Labrang experienced its first self-immolation protest on Monday, October 22, when 61-year-old Dhondup burned himself at a Stupa on the main road near the monastery.
Sonam, an exile monk with ties to the region told VOA that Dondhup carried out his protest around 9:45 am, and that his charred body was surrounded by a crowd of people in order to protect him from the security forces. There have been reports in the past of self-immolators being beaten with spiked batons and even shot at by security forces while still engulfed in flames. However, soon afterwards, a contingent of monks representing the management committee of the monastery dispersed the crowd and took Dhondup to a hospital, where he was declared dead.
Dondhup’s self-immolation follows less than 48 hours after the one by Lhamo Kyap in the same county. Originally from Hor Kyagya, a farming area five miles outside of Labrang, Dhondup left behind a wife and an adopted son and his family.
The Chinese news media did not immediately report on Saturday and Monday’s deaths, but in the past it has portrayed the spate of self-immolations as acts of terrorism, or acts carried out by social outcasts.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, told NBC’s Ann Curry during an interview on Sunday, that the self-immolations while being highly complex and difficult to judge, were non-violent expressions of the genuine desire for religious and cultural freedoms by the people, and their strong opposition to the Chinese government’s wrong policies in Tibet.