Former Tibetan monk sets self on fire for justice, cultural & religious freedom

WNN Religion & Belief

Tibetan Buddhist monk Lobsand Dorjeee self-immolation
This upsetting image shows the February 13, 2014 self-immolation of Tibetan Buddhist monk Lobsang Dorjee, from the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, during his deadly protest for religious and cultural freedom. Image: Phayul

(WNN) Eastern Tibetan Autonomous Region, CHINA, EASTERN ASIA: In the ongoing crisis in the denial of religious and cultural freedom for those living in the Autonomous Region of Tibet in China, 25-year-old Lobsang Dorjee set himself on fire around 6:30 pm local time one week ago on Thursday February 13 , 2014 in the town of Ngaba, which is part of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, eastern Tibet.

In the region of Ngaba those who follow and practice Tibetan Buddhism have been told by Chinese officials that they cannot show, carry, hold or even own a picture of their spiritual teacher, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

According to a November 2013 release by Reuters News, China hopes to completely “stamp out” the spiritual influence and voice of the 14th Dalai Lama, known also as Tenzin Gyatso, inside the Tibetan Autonomous Region within the next few years.

It is not known yet, but the actions of protest that pushed former monk Lobsang Dorjee to light himself on fire may end up being the 126th self-immolation to date for native indigenous Tibetans in China who desperately want religious and cultural freedom. Those who are demanding their rights especially want freedom to follow the teachings of the Dalai Lama.

Lobsang’s self-immolation was the second of 2014 and took place at an intersection not far from Kirti monastery in Ngaba town. Lobsang was heard to be shouting slogans but we were unable to confirm his actual words.

A police patrol spotted Lobsang Dorjee very soon after he set himself alight and put out the fire. There was already a heavy police presence in the town as many people had gathered around the monastery to celebrate the lunar New Year (January 30 to February 14) and also the annual New Year prayer festival, which takes place during the last four days of the holiday. Since 2008 the Chinese authorities have tightened security around Tibetan gatherings at this time of year.

Lobsang was put in a police car and covered with a black cloth. Once inside the car he was seen to sit up but was pressed back down by police before the car departed. His current condition and whereabouts are not known. Security in the town is now even tighter, with armed police patrolling the streets.

Lobsang Dorjee is from Upper Ranch village, Chara township (In Chinese: Jia luo), in Ngaba County. He had previously been a monk at Kirti monastery but more recently had been working with his mother and youngest brother in their car washing business in Darlag County (In Chinese: Da ri) in Qinghai Province. A few months before the protest he had returned home to Upper Ranch village to visit his father and attend the New Year prayer festival at Kirti monastery.

“It is incredibly sad that so many holidays and festivals in Tibet have ceased to be a time of celebration and have instead become times of increased repression, when armed troops patrol the streets of towns and villages looking for trouble,” said Director for Free Tibet Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren.

“When will China realise that these displays of force are counter-productive? The military and police presence is intended to cow the Tibetans into quiet submission but it often creates tension and incites protest. Over 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the occupation of their homeland and it is China that is responsible for every single one of the self-immolations,” added Director Byrne-Rosengren.


His Holiness The Dalai Lama shares his perspectives as he talks about ethics, compassion and his own personal history in a public talk in Albany New York (U.S.) on May 6th, 2009. This video is a public release on the Official YouTube channel of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


Information for this news story has been provided by Tibet Watch with an image by Phayul.


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