གཟའ་མིག་དམར། ༢༠༢༤/༠༣/༠༥

Two Tibetans carry out self-immolation protests in front of Tibet’s holiest temple in Lhasa

Two Tibetans carry out self-immolation protests in front of Tibet’s holiest temple in Lhasa
Two Tibetans carry out self-immolation protests in front of Tibet’s holiest temple in Lhasa

At around 2:16 pm local time on Sunday, two young Tibetan men set themselves on fire in front of the Jokhang temple in Lhasa, sources told VOA.

According to the sources, the security forces, armed with firefighting equipment, arrived rapidly on the scene and extinguished the raging fires and took away the two men. Eyewitnesses believe that one man may have died at the scene, but the actual condition and whereabouts of the two men are not known at this time.

One of the self-immolators was reportedly a 19 year old named Dorjee Tseten, originally from Amdo Bora, and the other young man is reportedly from Amdo Ngaba, although the source couldn’t confirm this information with absolute certainty. Both men had lived in Lhasa for some time and worked at a local restaurant named Nyima Ling.

The immediate and widespread security clampdown that followed included the cutting of telephone and internet connections, the inspection of all cameras and cell phones within a certain perimeter of where the immolations occurred, and numerous detentions yet to be fully confirmed. It is reported that the site of the immolations was immediately cleaned and that there were no traces of the event having taken place.

A Tibetan monk in South India with contacts in Lhasa told VOA that Dorjee Tseten was the youngest of three, and that his mother’s name is Dolkar Kyi and father’s name is Wa Dekhar. .

The two self immolators were reportedly shouting slogans as they were engulfed in flames although it is not clear exactly what they were saying. In many of the past instances of self-immolations, the protesters had called for the return of the Dalai Lama and for freedom or greater freedoms for Tibet.

The self-immolations occurred during the 6th day of Saka Dawa, a month long commemoration of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing. The Chinese authorities in Lhasa had once again banned both current and retired government officials as well as Party members and students from observing this holiest of Tibetan religious observances.

This is the second instance of self-immolation to have taken place in the 1965 created ‘Tibet Autonomous region’, and the 36th and 37th people to have undertaken this form of protest since 2009 against China’s policies in Tibet.

The U.S. State Department in November urged Beijing to address its "counter-productive policies" in Tibetan areas, and added that China's policies have created tensions which threaten the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people.