Teenage Tibetan carries out self-immolation protest in India

Dorjee Tsering
Dorjee Tsering

1st March 2016

Update 3/3/2016: Dorjee Tsering passed away at around 8.30pm on 3 March 2016.

Schoolboy treated in hospital after setting himself on fire

16-year-old Dorjee Tsering carried out a self-immolation protest in India yesterday, 29 February 2016. He set himself on fire in Dehradun where he had been visiting his grandfather. He called out "free Tibet" as he ran engulfed in flames.

He survived the protest but suffered 95% burns to his body and is being treated in hospital in Delhi.

Dorjee Tsering comes from a Tibetan settlement in northern India where he attends school. His father, Thupten, told Free Tibet's research partner Tibet Watch that this is a heartbreaking incident but he is proud of his son and his sacrifice for the Tibetan nation.

"I had a strong determination to do something for Tibet"

Update 2/3/2016: Video footage shows Dorjee Tsering from his hospital bed, speaking through an oxygen mask to explain his reasons for setting himself on fire (recorded during a visit by the RTYC Delhi President, Samyeling Resident Welfare Association and other Tibetan community representatives):

My name is Dorjee Tsering. I am a 16-year-old student of Tibetan Children’s Village, Mussoorie. In 1959, China occupied our Tibet. This caused Tibetans to become fragmented.. some are in Tibet, some in exile and other countries. I have had a strong determination to do something for Tibet since my childhood. I thought that if I could finish Class Ten well... but because I couldn't, I thought if there is something I can do for Tibet, the only option would be to burn my body. I bought kerosene and matches and burned myself. It seems the oil put on my body was not enough to burn completely, only the outside and not much damage to my body internally. I did think about my parents and family at first. In the past I asked my father and mother many times how it would be if I self-immolated. My parents would always say that they would feel very sad, so sad that they would die. But I've let both parents go for the sake of Tibet. Finally I want to say, long live His Holiness and I pray that may Tibet gain independence as soon as possible. Victory for Tibet.

In another video statement Dorjee Tsering also added: "Because if I self-immolate, everyone will be shocked and think that he set fire to his own body. So when they think that, countries like UK, America... Africa ... wherever, they will pay attention to Tibetans and support us and help us well."

Tibet's resistance

More than 140 self-immolation protests have taken place inside Tibet where Tibetans continue to resist China's occupation of their country. There have also been eight self-immolation protests by Tibetans outside of Tibet since 1998, include in Nepal and India.

"The global community cannot continue to turn a deaf ear"

Free Tibet's director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren has called on political leaders to stand up for Tibet:

With news breaking of another self-immolation inside Tibet on Monday, the global community cannot continue to turn a deaf ear to the voices of Tibetans calling for its support. China’s occupation of Tibet and its oppression inside Tibet should be enough to generate international condemnation at the highest level. Surely the words and actions of this 16-year-old boy will shame the political leaders who put more value on friendship with China than justice for Tibet. They should all watch this, and imagine if it was their child.

Take action

Tibetans and supporters around the world will be standing in solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet this March as they commemorate Tibetan Uprising Day; find out how you can get involved.

Since China invaded and occupied their land in 1950, over one million Tibetans inside Tibet have died. You can help to honour their memories by leaving a message in our White Lotus Book of Remembrance.