A Tibetan buddhist nun is 120th death by self-immolation as protests continue

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Chinese soldiers outside Tibetan Buddhist monastery
Chinese military soldiers move in to break up a gathering of monks who they think are protesting outside of the Tibetan Buddhist Nyatso Monastery in Tawu in March 2011. Tension has continued to run high between the Tibetan indigenous and the Chinese military for the last number of years in the region as locals have cited what they convey are incidents of human rights abuse by the military. Image: Dossiertibet

(WNN) Dharamshala, INDIA, SOUTH ASIA: As public memorial and a secret Chinese government cremation followed the death of Tibetan nun Wangchen Dolma in the Tawu region of Kam in the eastern TAR – Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, Tibetans who are part of the Tibetan diaspora are showing concern.

The CTA – Central Tibetan Administration, known as India-based Tibetan government in exile, have reported from sources inside the region that the nun remains were cremated immediately after death at the hospital where she died.

Dolma died on June 14 from her injuries after setting herself on fire a little more than a week ago in an action of protest against the current policies of China. Her self-immolation protest surrounded issues in the fight for religious and cultural freedom for indigenous Tibetans in the Chinese region, including the right to speak the ancient native language of region.

“According to the Dharamshala based exile Tibetan administration, Wangchen Dolma passed away on June 14 in a hospital in Dartsedo where Chinese security personnel had forcibly taken her from the protest site,” says Phayul, an online news provider based in India that has been created to share news and information for the worldwide Tibetan community living in exile.

“The authorities have surreptitiously cremated the body at the hospital. They have also kept the family members of the deceased under house arrest,” the Central Tibetan Administration said.

Even under family restrictions with house watch by Chinese authorities, many people from the local community gathered at the family home to give their respects to the deceased nun, and to offer condolences to her relatives.

Around 5pm in the early evening on Tuesday June 11 Wangchen Dolma set herself on fire just outside the Nyatso Monastery in Tawu, a famous monastery known historically throughout Tibet. According to reports the day before she gathered her students and advised them to study Tibetan history, culture and language.

Wangchen Dolma was born to Tenzin and Youdon of Gyal Bum Tsang family in Dragthok village in Minyag Drapa region of Tawu. She was enrolled at a Buddhist institute located on Barshab Dragkar, a sacred hill near her village.

Earlier reports had indicated that Chinese security personnel also severely beat and arrested an unidentified Tibetan man, who had tried to rescue Wangchen Dolma from falling into the hands of Chinese authorities. His current condition and whereabouts remain unknown.

Since 2009 the number of people who have committed self-immolation in protest against current Chinese policy, since Wangchen Dolma has died has now reached 120.

Although the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso is troubled by the deaths surrounding such a “sensitive issue,” he does not feel the protests are working the way protesters hope to change policy in China. Protests concerning sanctions on his ability to enter or visit the region continue. The Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people has been an, albeit often secretly held, issue of great importance to many of the native indigenous Tibetans who live in the Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu provinces.

Following the release of their music album, “The Agony of Unhealed Wounds,” last July that included songs about self-immolation and also the Dalai Lama, two Tibetan singers have also just been sentenced by Chinese officials to 2 years of incarceration, the ICT – International Campaign for Tibet outlined in a recent public release on Wednesday June 19.

Self-immolation is considered a jail-able criminal offense by Chinese authorities, including the act of helping, aiding or abetting someone who is committing self-immolation. In addition gathering a group of observers during the act of self-immolation is considered by Chinese security authorities to be an act used to “disrupt social order.”

Not every protester who has caught themselves on fire has died due to their protest. Out of over 1 hundred, a few have managed to survive as observers have worked quickly to put out their flames.


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