Students for a Free Tibet just put out this release on the shooting of a monk who had self-immolated in protest in Tibet.
Hong Kong – A Tibetan monk was shot by Chinese police today after he set himself on fire at 1:40pm Beijing Time in Ngaba town (Chinese: Aba) in eastern Tibet. According to eyewitnesses, Tape, a monk in his 20’s from Kirti monastery, was shouting slogans and carrying a homemade Tibetan flag with an image of the Dalai Lama on it when he set himself on fire at the crossroads of the main market. Eyewitness reports indicate the police fired three shots at Tape after he set himself on fire. At least one of the bullets made contact. His body was removed almost immediately and it is unclear whether he survived the incident.
“That a young monk felt compelled to self-immolate in protest shows that China’s repression in Tibet is driving Tibetans to the brink,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “This desperate action is a reflection of the intense frustration and pain that all Tibetans are feeling after nearly a year of being mercilessly targeted and oppressed by the Chinese authorities, and after having endured 50 years of subjugation at the hands of the Chinese government.”
Reports from Kirti monastery indicate that Tape’s protest came shortly after 1,000 monks, including Tape, were stopped from entering the monastery’s main prayer hall to engage in prayers for the 3rd day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. After being blocked from entering the hall, the monks sat down outside and were preparing to go ahead with their prayers when older monks pleaded with them to disperse. The monks complied and went back to their rooms. Shortly afterwards, Tape came out of the monastery and once on the street he took out the flag and began walking towards the main market just a few minutes away.
Dozens of Tibetans from Ngaba and the surrounding area were killed last year, and many more disappeared and were imprisoned, when protests swept across Tibet. Graphic photos of Tibetans shot and killed by Chinese forces in Ngaba were some of the only images of the fatalities in the protests that reached the outside world. Following the protests, the monks of Kirti monastery were the targets of some of the most extreme torture, abuse and intimidation by Chinese authorities. The entire region has been under lockdown for the past year and in recent months foreigners have been blocked from entering Ngaba.
Also, Tibet Will Be Free has posted a series of photos released by Radio Free Asia of hundreds of monks from Lutsang Monastery holding a candlelight vigil in Mangra County, Tibet. Kate at TWBF points out: “Lutsang Monastery is located in Mangra Country, a few hours from Rebong. Monks from this same monastery also took part in a protest last year on March 10, 2008.”
The Guardian has a story on the immolation/shooting of the Tibetan monk Tabe, with added reports from Free Tibet Campaign.