གཟའ་སྤེན་པ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༡༨

Third Tibetan Self-immolation in One Week


A Tibetan monk carried out a lone protest outside a security police outpost set up to monitor his monastery before setting fire to himself around 11AM on December 23rd. Kalsang Yeshi, 37, called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for freedom in Tibet before his self immolation at Nyatso monastery in the traditional Tibetan area of Kham Tawu, located today in Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

He is believed to have died at the scene, although his body was forcibly taken away by Chinese security forces and his exact condition is not unknown at present. The refusal of the police to allow family members to know of his condition or to hand over his body for proper funeral rites has led to a tense situation in the area where all internet and phone communications have been cut off.

Venerable Kalsang Yeshi is originally from the Thewa settlement, located in the Kunor area of Tawu. His mother's name is Champa Lhamo and his father's name is Dorje.

Sources tell VOA that Kalsang Yeshi was a much respected and civic minded person who comforted the elderly with Buddhist teachings and also tutored children and the elderly in writing and reading in Tibetan.

His self-immolation follows that of Sangay Khar, a 34 year old father of two on December 16, and Tsepey, a 20 year old woman yesterday, marking both a new beginning and a rapid acceleration of these deadly protests which have become more infrequent following China's new policy of punishing the near and dear ones of those who carry out such protests with fines, deprivation of the already few rights, and long prison sentences.

While this week's three self-immolations don't appear to be connected in any way, they are clearly acts carried out by individuals who made their decision, fully cognizant of China's policy of trying to end this form of expression through intimidation and punishment rather than through understanding and reforms.