Sources from Tibet report that a young monk from Kirti monastery, Ngaba County, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba county, Sichuan province) poured petrol over himself and set himself alight earlier today.
More than 40 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire in protest at the repressive Chinese occupation of their country. See the full list.
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:
“This event takes place at a particularly sensitive time in Tibet. With protests expected, authorities in Ngaba were on high alert and had been told to monitor the situation closely in order to prevent protests. There was already a high police presence in Ngaba and nearby Kirti monastery. In the last week Free Tibet has received reports of various restrictions on communication and movement: anyone using public telephone facilities to make international calls has been required to provide identification; the sale of petrol in Ngaba County has been restricted; following the Dalai Lama’s statement on 10 March, monks at Kirti monastery have been told that satellite dishes will be removed from the monastery. Today is the third anniversary of protests in Ngaba when use of lethal force by Chinese police resulted in the deaths of 13 Tibetan people (1).”
International telephone connections to Ngaba are now restricted so Free Tibet is unable to confirm exactly how events unfolded after the monk, Phuntsog (2), set light to himself outside “Sopa Hotel” (3) on the main road from Ngaba town to Kirti Monastery. A number of sources have reported that a very large crowd of lay people and monks gathered and people tried to put out the flames on the monk. It is understood that as Chinese police tried to detain people at the scene they beat them with metal batons; many people are reported to have fled with severe injuries. Free Tibet is unable to confirm the numbers who gathered or were detained at this time, but one eye witness fleeing from the scene reported a crowd of 1,000.
Kirti monastery is now surrounded by Chinese police, the streets of Ngaba are being patrolled by police and people have been instructed not to go outside. A monk from Kirti monastery in India said he was very worried about the fate of his fellow monks in Tibet as he can no longer contact them.
Sources report that Phuntsog was taken by other monks back to Kirti monastery but it is unknown whether he is alive. A monk from Kirti monastery is reported to have said that the monks in Kirti monastery are ready to die rather than to release Phuntsog to the police (4).
Notes to Editor
Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.
(2) Phuntsog is 21 and was born in Merima township in Ngaba County.
(3) A hotel owned by a businessman called Sopa
(4) The body of a monk from Kirti monastery who was shot by police after setting fire to himself in February 2009 was removed by police and no further information about him is known – http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/2729
For further information and interviews please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden
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