A Tibetan man, heard shouting for the long life of the Dalai Lama, has burned himself to death in Qinghai province in protest against Chinese rule, the third self-immolation in two days, according to sources Saturday.
Tamdin Dorjee 29, the main breadwinner of a family of six, torched himself in front of the local government office of Dokarmo subdivision in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture late Friday.
“He managed to walk about 10 steps and then fell on the ground. He stood up and attempted to walk but soon collapsed and died,” an exile source told RFA’s Tibetan service.
According to another Tibetan exile source, “As the flames blazed higher, he could be seen putting his hands together in prayer, shouting long life to the Dalai Lama,” a report by the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said Saturday.
Defying official warnings, more than 1,000 people gathered at the site of his self-immolation, according to exile sources, praying for Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s long life and chanting mantras, ICT said.
Then, the monks of the local monasteries and residents cremated Tamdrin Dorjee at a cemetery located close to the Mindrol Dargyalling monastery, sources said.
One exile source told RFA that few days before his self-immolation, Tamdin Dorjee called on his family members and enjoyed supper with them and talked. He also met up with all his close friends and relatives.
“During these gatherings, he mentioned how difficult and tough he felt it was to remain under Chinese restrictions and torture,” the source said.
Tibetan groups say self-immolations protesting Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama have intensified recently due to Beijing’s “discriminatory” policies and a security clampdown on monasteries.
Tamdin Dorjee’s death brings the self-immolation tally to 81 so far, with 17 reported this month. Another self-immolation on Friday and one more a day earlier were reported previously.
“The Tibetans who are self-immolating—now in more rapid succession—have clearly not been dissuaded by the security buildup or other means of official intimidation,” said Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.
“Nonetheless, the authorities seem to be betting that further oppression will cower or exhaust the will of future self-immolators,” she said. “But unless and until there is some initiative that can break through the cycle of repression and protest, I think we all acknowledge that more Tibetans will be prepared to take the agonizing action of self-immolation.”
“And that is a terrible and unacceptable calculation,” she said
Chinese authorities however have labeled the self-immolators as terrorists, outcasts, criminals, and mentally ill people and have blamed the Dalai Lama for encouraging the burnings.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.