Two young monks, Lobsang Kalsang (1) and Lobsang Konchok (2) estimated to be aged between 18-19 years old, both from Kirti monastery, Ngaba County, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba county, Sichuan province) self-immolated earlier today. Lobsang Kelsang is the brother of Phuntsog, a 21-year old monk also from Kirti monastery who set himself on fire in March. It is understood that both monks were taken to the county hospital. The monks called for religious freedom and “long live the Dalai Lama” before they self-immolated.
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 is now the fourth act of self-immolation in six months, an unprecedented trend, underlining the growing desperation among some young Tibetans. It is impossible to confirm what prompted this act of protest, but it is believed to be in response to mounting pressure on the monastic community at Kirti monastery and Phuntsog’s family members (3). In recent weeks, six monks, including an uncle and brother have been sentenced for their alleged involvement in Phuntsog’s act of self-immolation. Allegations rigorously denied by a spokesperson at Kirti monastery, Dharamsala.
Before it was impossible to confirm if any of the recent acts of self-immolation were connected to each other or inspired by events in the Middle East and North Africa, as information is strictly controlled and censored in Tibet. However, today’s tragic news does now suggest that some young Tibetans are using desperate measures to draw attention to the situation inside Tibet.
Given China’s response to the events in March (4), including the deployment of Paramilitary Armed Police, arbitrary arrests, armed road blocks, house searches and the forcible removal of hundreds of monks, Free Tibet is urging the international community to call for restraint in any response to these most recent acts of self-immolation. Free Tibet hopes that today’s desperate act underlines the need for the international community to puts pressure on China to accept invitations to resume talks for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Tibet.”
Notes to Editor
1. Image of Lobsang Kalsang, the brother of Phuntsog, the 21-year old monk who self-immolated in March 2011.
2. Most recent available image of Lobsang Konchok, at least two years old.
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.
For further information and interviews please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden
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