Monastery official self-immolates
A monk set fire to himself (1) at approximately 6am local time today in the grounds of Bongthak Ewam Tare Shedrup Dhargey Ling Monastery (2), Sengge Township, Themchen County, Tsonub Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Eastern Tibet (3).
The monk, named Tamchoe Sangpo, died (4); he was in his late 30s. Tamchoe was a teacher at the monastic school and a member of the Democratic Management Committee of the Monastery (5).
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden commented:
“This self-immolation is another example of widening unrest in Tibet. It is of even greater significance as Tamchoe Sangpo was a member of a Democratic Management Committee, the government-controlled bodies which the authorities rely on to control the monasteries.”
Chinese security personnel came to the monastery on 23 January and watched over the monks’ daily activities after a patriotic re-education campaign there had met with protests.
Tamchoe had told the police that they must leave the monastery because it is a place for monks and not for police officers but they remained.
A checkpoint which was stationed outside the monastery is now being used to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. Phone lines have also been cut.
Many villagers are at the monastery for a festival, and a prayer service was taking place when Tamchoe set fire to himself.
Notes to editors
1) For further information on self-immolations in Tibet: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/selfimmolations
2) The monastery is also known as A-hin Tara Shadup Darjee Ling Monastery. It houses approximately 80 monks.
3) Chinese: Shengge Township, Tianjun County, Hai Xi Prefecture, Qinghai Province.
4)Tamchoe Sangpo: Tamchoe travelled to India in 1995 and studied at Gomung college
5) Under Chinese rule, government-controlled Democratic Management Committees (DMCs) have been introduced to control the basic affairs of monasteries and nunneries, including control over the admission, training, movement, teaching and discipline of members of the clergy. DMCs are also responsible for suggesting potential candidates for reincarnation; candidates must then be submitted to the autonomous regional government for approval. All these functions were for centuries overseen by monastic bodies.
For further information see Free Tibet report on Freedom of Religion in Tibet: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/briefings
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:
M: +91 997 090 2291 / +91 988 2452 801