Monk self-immolates in Tibet on anniversary of fatal shootings

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Free Tibet media release
16 March 2014, immediate use

Fourth monk to die on date of 2008 killing of unarmed protesters

A Tibetan monk set himself alight this morning, 16 March, at around 11:30 am (local time) in Ngaba county (1).

Lobsang Palden, a Buddhist monk in his 20s from Kirti monastery in Ngaba (photos available, 2), set himself on fire on the main street, which has been dubbed 'Heroes' street' by local Tibetans due to the high number of Tibetans having self-immolated there.

Shortly after Lobsang Palden's self-immolation, police arrived, extinguished the fire and took him to hospital. His current condition is unknown.

Security and surveillance have been tightened in Ngaba county since the protest.

In an apparently final message posted on WeChat, a popular social media platform in China, Lobsang Palden wrote:

“There should be unity and sincerity between nationalities. It goes without saying that hatred toward others brings failure and pure sincerity towards others lets success prevail. No matter what issues are dealt with, it is essential to contemplate first rather than acting foolishly.” (full text below, 3)

Ngaba and the local Kirti monastery have been a centre of resistance to Chinese rule and the site of many demonstrations. On 16 March 2008, security forces fired into a crowd of hundreds of protesters, including monks and lay people. 13 deaths were confirmed, including that of a sixteen-year-old girl named Lundhup Tso (4,5).

In March 2011, a Kirti monk named Phuntsog set himself alight on the anniversary of the killings (6). More than 125 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since and Phuntsog’s protest is widely seen as the trigger for the wave of self-immolations that have followed (7). In 2012 and 2013, Kirti monks also set themselves alight on the anniversary of the shootings (8).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“The cause of self-immolation in Tibet is Chinese repression, and the murder of unarmed protesters in Ngaba in 2008 is a central event in the recent history of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule. Self-immolations in Tibet are not suicides, they are protests and another death on this anniversary is proof of that.

Despite China’s long history of oppression, and the suffering of Ngaba in recent years, Lobsang Palden expressed no anger towards the people of China before undertaking this protest. Tibetan protests are not acts of aggression but the courageous response of a people seeking only to have their grievances heard and their aspirations fulfilled.”

Information and translation provided by Tibet Watch.

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For further information or comment, contact Alistair Currie:
E: alistair@freetibet.org
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Notes for editors

(1) Location: Ngaba Town (Ch: Aba), Ngaba County (Ch: Aba), Ngaba TAP, Sichuan Province
(2) Portrait and protest photos at
(3) Full text of WeChat post (photo of post available at

“To all my fellow brothers and sister who are related to Drak Sinmo [Tibetans' first ancestral mother] and Pha Trelgen Changchup Sempa [ancestral father], I want to say that there should be unity and sincerity between nationalities. It goes without saying that hatred toward others bring failure and pure sincerity towards others lets success prevail. No matter what issues are dealt with, it is essential to contemplate first rather than acting foolishly.

Students should study well, parents should educate their children well and business people should do mutual beneficial businesses. All in all, everyone, both nomads and farmers, should take good care of their parents and should be unity-full) with the world in general and with the Chinese neighbours in particular, because when there is unity and great compassion between us, our opinions could be shared through dialogue.

To my mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, brother an sister -in-laws, all my brothers and sisters, my kind teachers and fellow students, I wish you being successful in your careers and pray that all your thoughts are altruistic.

Mother, you brought us (his brothers and sisters) with kindness, your sweat and blood flourished our youth, your hand gave us many joys, your kindness and compassion dissipated our hardship …. you gave us too much and all were raised by you. Thank you mother, I really have endless to tell you, but I need to stop here ….. forgive me for my spelling mistakes. Penned by Palden”.

(4) See http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/pictures-dead-kirti-monastery
(5) See http://tibetwatch.org/Free%20Tibet%20and%20Tibet%20Watch%20submission%20to%20the%20UNCRC%20November%202012.pdf
(6) See http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/monk-dies-after-self-immolation
(7) Full list of confirmed self-immolation protests at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/full-list-self-immolations-tibet.
(8) On the anniversary in 2012, Lobsang Tsultrim set himself alight at Kirti and later died http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/monk-raises-his-fist-freedom. In 2013, monk Lobsang Thomkey set himself alight and died. http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetan-monk-dies-protest-anniversary-fatal-shootings