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New image of monk who set himself on fire: concerns for his welfare

August 19, 2009

ICT Report
August 17, 2009

There are continued concerns about the welfare and whereabouts of a
young monk who set himself on fire in February 2009 as a form of
protest after prayer ceremonies at his monastery were cancelled. A
disturbing new photograph of the incident, depicting Tapey standing
in the middle of a road apparently motionless with flames around his
body, has been received from Tibet and can be viewed at:

Tapey, in his mid-twenties, was fired upon by security personnel
after he set himself on fire in the market area of Ngaba (Chinese:
Aba) in Sichuan province (the Tibetan area of Amdo). He had left his
monastery, Kirti, to stage the protest after monks were told by local
authorities that they were not allowed to observe Monlam, a
traditional prayer festival that is held after the Tibetan New Year
(Losar). After he was shot and had fallen to the ground, he was
surrounded by police and taken to hospital.
China's official media reported the incident, but denied reports that
police had opened fire on Tapey.

There were indications that Tapey would have a leg and an arm
amputated, although according to sources in the area, this did not
happen. But sources in contact with Tibetan exiles say that his
current whereabouts are unknown and that he has not been able to
return to his family.

Despite the order banning prayers at Kirti in February 2009, hundreds
of Kirti monks still gathered outside Kirti's prayer hall to go ahead
with the prayers. They later dispersed on the advice of local
officials, but Tapey left the monastery and walked towards county
town. He had already doused himself with fuel by the time he reached
the crossroads in Ngaba town. He then set himself on fire and raised
a home-made Tibetan flag that had at its center a photograph of the
Dalai Lama. When Tapey began to shout slogans (no details are yet
known of what he said), People's Armed Police (PAP) personnel
stationed nearby opened fire, and Tapey fell to the ground. Reports
indicate that the flames were extinguished by the PAP after Tapey was
shot and he was immediately taken away by police.

The crackdown in Ngaba has been particularly severe following a major
protest involving monks from Kirti monastery in March last year. At
least 10 Tibetans - including 16-year-old schoolgirl Lhundup Tso -
were shot dead last year after police opened fire on unarmed Tibetans
who joined the spontaneous protest after a morning prayer session at
Kirti monastery on March 16, 2008.

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
Tel: +44 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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