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March 1, 2009

For Immediate Release
February 27, 2009

Contact: Lhadon Tethong in Hong Kong +852 5106-4676

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.

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