Family of Tibetan self-immolation protester detained

Tibetans gather for a vigil for Tashi Rabten in Dharamsala, India
Tibetans gather for a vigil for Tashi Rabten in Dharamsala, India

9th December 2016

Vigil held in Dharamsala for Tashi Rabten, who fatally set himself on fire yesterday

Family members of Tashi Rabten, a former monk who carried out a fatal self-immolation protest yesterday, have been taken into custody. Tashi Rabten’s wife and two children were detained yesterday in Machu County, Kanlho, eastern Tibet.

Several other family members were detained after they approached local authorities to ask for his body. The current status of these family members is unknown.

The Chinese authorities have sought to discourage self-immolation protests by introducing laws to punish family members, monasteries and communities with fines, travel restrictions and arrests. Nevertheless, over 140 Tibetans have carried out self-immolation  protests in Tibet since 2009, with the majority of these protests claiming their lives.

A cry for freedom

Tashi Rabten, who was known to his friends and family as Tarab, was a former monk from Teushel village in Machu County, Kanlho, eastern Tibet. Yesterday at 5pm (local time) he carried out a self-immolation protest. Video captured him walking down the street on fire before collapsing to the ground. While he walked he shouted slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for Tibet to be free. A crowd gathered around him to say prayers. A later video shows security personnel lifting and removing the body.

In 2012 Tsering Kyi, a student and a cousin of Tashi Rabten, died after carrying out a self-immolation protest in Machu County. She was 20 years old when she died.

Today a vigil for Tashi Rabten was held by the Tibetan community and Tibet supporters in Dharamsala, India. Footage can be seen in the video below.

Take action

Tibetans continue to resist the occupation through protests, demonstrations and by expressing their unique culture. For their defiance they are punished with harassment, arrest and long prison sentences. Take action for Tibet’s political prisoners by writing to the Chinese authorities and telling them that the world is watching.