Tashi Namgyal honoured by Tibetans at memorial ceremony

9th October 2017

"Sincere and committed" Tashi Namgyal took his own life in Switzerland last month. He expressed fears for his country and for Tibetan asylum seekers in Europe

More than 200 Tibetans have turned out in the Swiss city of Lucerne to honour Tashi Namgyal, the Tibetan who took his life in Switzerland last month.

Tashi Namgyal was cremated on 4 October in a procession organised by the Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein (TCSL). Among those attending the ceremony were representatives of the Office of Tibet in Geneva.

32-year-old Tashi Namgyal took his own life on the morning of 7 September, laying on a train line between the Swiss towns of Emmenbruke and Olten. He had been in Switzerland since mid-July, having arrived from a Tibetan settlement of Orissa in southern India.

Letters released

According to local sources, the police held Tashi Namgyal's body until 4 October so that they could verify Tashi Namgyal’s identity and carry out a post-mortem.

Tashi Namgyal was identified by Lobsang Palden, a Tibetan living in Switzerland, who connected the local police with the families of the deceased. The police, after a thorough process of verification, including a DNA test, handed over the body to the TCSL through Lobsang Palden.

Swiss police also released scanned copies of a note left by Tashi Namgyal at the scene of his death. One side of the note consisted of a letter to the United Nations and the Swiss government and expressed sadness and hopelessness over the recent decision of the Swiss authorities to deport 300 Tibetan asylum seekers. The letter also explained the human rights violations taking place in Tibet.

A side, addressed specifically to the Swiss government, requests that it accepts Tibetan asylum seekers. In this letter, Tashi Namgyal went on to write that through his death he hoped to send a message to the outside world about what is happening inside Tibet. He also addressed his family members at the end of the letter, informing them that the decision to take his own life was his alone. The letter also refers to the self-immolation protests that have taken place since 2009 both inside and outside Tibet.

According to Tenzin Nyingbu, President of TCSL, the original letters will remain in the custody of city police officials until legal procedures are carried out, after which they will be handed over to a family associate or a legal representative.

An official announcement released by the TCSL stated that Tashi Namgyal had not applied for asylum at the time of his death, and for this reason police officials did not find any documents relating to his identity.

Honoured in India

A separate letter from a Tibetan Settlement Officer in Orissa (now Odhisa), Tashi Namgyal’s former home, described Tashi Namgyal as a sincere, committed and respectful person who always took keen interest in affairs of Tibet and engaged actively in social work in the settlement.

The letter added that Tashi Namgyal served in various capacities in the settlement, including as village leader for three years, regional Middle Way Executive for three years and in the Regional Tibetan National Sports Association for eight years.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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