10/11/2011, 00.00
TIBET – CHINA
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Three days of mourning over two self-immolating Tibetan monks

Ngaba, in Sichuan, is a hotbed of anti-Chinese protest by Tibetans. Two young monks choose to die for Tibet’s cause, and the town responds by shutting down to pay them their respect. Instead of dialogue, Beijing sends police to patrol the area.
Ngaba (AsiaNews) – Ngaba residents paid tribute to two young Tibetan Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese domination and persecution. For three days, the people of the town shut down all businesses and visited local temples to pray and remember the two men. Communist authorities reacted to the action with harsh measures. They refused to return the body of the one monk who died to the family and placed guards in front of “sensitive” homes.

The two monks, Khaying, 18, and Choephel, 19, set themselves on fire last Friday. One died and the other is in hospital in serious conditions. Both were studying at the Kirti Buddhist Monastery, just outside Ngaba, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, an area with a substantial Tibetan population. In fact, before Mao’s invasion it was part of Tibet.

When news spread about the monks’ action, Ngaba residents closed stores and restaurants out of respect for the two protesters.

Their monastery in Kirti has been a hotbed of anti-Chinese protest for the past three years. Communist authorities have even tried to shut it down. Now they have placed it under close watch, but it remains a much beloved institution for locals.

Increasingly, young Tibetan monks are choosing self-immolation to draw attention to the terrible conditions Beijing has imposed on Tibetans.

Kanyag Tsering lives in Kirti’s twin monastery in Dharamsala, northern India, headquarters of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Speaking to Radio Free Asia, he said that Chinese authorities refused to give Khaying’s body to his family. Instead, they cremated him and only returned the ashes. “The relatives demanded his body to conduct the death rituals but the authorities denied the request.” Only a few monks were allowed into his house, which is guarded by police agents.

Before setting fire to himself, Khaying said he wanted to give his life "for the cause of Tibet" and called on the people of Ngaba "not to worry about his death.” Choephel also “talked about the intolerable situation in Ngaba," Tsering said.

Such actions show that Tibetans are increasingly turning against Chinese rule. Protests began in March and do not appear to be abating.

According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, self-immolation by fire purifies and is a good step on the path of rebirth.
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