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Tibetan nun self-immolates, brings toll to 119

June 17, 2013

See below for a breaking update to this story.

June 11: In reports just in, a Tibetan nun set herself on fire today in Tawu region of eastern Tibet in an apparent protest against China’s continued occupation of Tibet.

According to exile sources, the Tibetan nun set herself ablaze at around 5 pm (local time) in Tawu region of Kham. The nun is yet to be indentified and no further details of her self-immolation protest are available at the time of filing this report.

However, it has been reported that the nun was rushed to a hospital in Dartsedo region soon after her fiery protest. Nothing is known about her current wellbeing.

The same sources indicated that all internet lines in Tawu region have been shut down by regional Chinese authorities, making it extremely difficult for more information to trickle out.
Also, strict restrictions have been placed on the movement of local Tibetans and monks.

Apparently, more than 3000 Tibetan monks from all over the Tibetan plateau representing different schools of Tibetan Buddhism are currently gathered at the Nyatso Monastery for a major religious congregation.

The Tawu region has seen multiple self-immolation protests followed by severe crackdown by Chinese military forces.

On August, 15, 2011,
Tsewang Norbu, a 29-year old Tibetan monk from the Nyatso monastery passed away in his self-immolation protest calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Defying Chinese authorities, monks of the monastery carried Tsewang Norbu’s charred body inside the monastery where almost 10,000 local Tibetan gathered overnight to pay their respects.

In the days following the incident, over a thousand Chinese armed security personnel
locked down the Monastery, cutting off electricity and water supply.

Few months later, on November 3, 2011,
Palden Choetso, a 35-year-old Tibetan nun at the Gaden Choeling Nunnery monastery in Tawu passed away in her self-immolation protest.

Since 2009, as many as 119 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.

The Chinese government has responded with even harsher policies, criminalising the self-immolation protests and sentencing scores of people to heavy prison terms on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in self-immolation protests. Chinese officials have barred Tibetans from offering prayers and showing solidarity with families of self-immolators and announced the cancellation of development funds to those villages where self-immolations have taken place.

Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that the People Republic of China’s “
totalitarian, blind, unrealistic” policies in Tibet were responsible for the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet and urged Chinese leaders to “carry realistic work and look for the causes of these self-immolations.”

UPDATE:  June 17, 2013

Free Tibet News Release

Update: nun confirmed dead following self-immolation reported last week

A nun, who Free Tibet reported to have set fire to herself last week (1), has died. Previously unidentified, she has now been named as 31-year-old Wangchen Dolma (picture available, 2).

 She died three days after her self-immolation on June 14 at around 8pm. Her protest was at Nyatso monastery in Tawu County, eastern Tibet (3), during a major Tibetan Buddhist gathering, which Chinese authorities banned in 2012.

 She died at hospital in Darstedo. Her body was cremated by the authorities, who caused additional distress to Wangchen Dolma's family by refusing to hand over her body or ashes, and stopping them performing the traditional death ceremonies. Chinese authorities also prevented local people from visiting the family to pray and show solidarity. The family were ordered to not contact people about Wangchen Dolma's protest or visit the monastery.

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