Third fatal self-immolation in Tibet in eight days

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Monk dies calling for freedom

37 year-old Tibetan monk, Kalsang Yeshi (photographs available, 1) set himself alight around 11am local time on 23 December in Dawu County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (2). His protest took place outside a police station located close to his monastery to monitor activity by the monks. During the protest he shouted slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and saying that Tibetans need freedom.

Police forcibly removed his body and hundreds of members of the local community gathered and told the police they want Kalsang Yeshi's body returned for traditional funeral ceremonies. It is not clear at this point whether his body has been returned - frequently the authorities cremate the bodies of self-immolators, against the wishes of the family.

His protest follows those of Tsepe and Sanghyal Khar earlier this week (22 and 16 December respectively) (3). Both were also fatal. There have now been eleven self-immolations in Tibet this year, after 27 in 2013 and more than 80 in 2012 (4). Three self-immolations have not taken place in this period since March 2013.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said

“It is too soon to tell whether this group of self-immolations marks a renewed wave of such protests but it is certainly clear that the grievances which led to the first wave remain unaddressed. Last year, China introduced severe sentences for anyone convicted of ‘inciting’ the protests and collective punishments for communities in which they took place. Those acts have themselves deepened Tibetans’ sense of injustice under China’s rule. Protests of all kinds will continue until Tibetans’ demands for freedom are satisfied.”

Kalsang Yeshi travelled to India in his early years and studied Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in Gadhen Jingtse monastery (located in South India). Since his return to Tibet, he promoted Buddhism and taught the Tibetan language in his area.

Information provided by TibetWatch

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Notes to editors

(1) Photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/15908175017/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/16093215152/ Kalsang Yeshi was from Thewa (Ch: Te'erwa) village of Mazur (Ch: Mazi) township, Dawu (Ch: Daofu) County. He was the son of Jampa (father) and Dorjee (mother).

(2) Location: Nyatso monastery, Dawu (Ch: Daofu) County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan

(3) Free Tibet press release 22 December http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibetan-woman-dies-second-self-immolation-week; Free Tibet press release, 16 December http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/tibetan-dies-fatal-protest .

(4) Full list of self-immolators at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet