03/18/2013, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Kirti monk self immolates in memory of Tibetans killed in March 2008

The religious, 28, set himself on fire and died in Sichuan province, where 16 March 2008 the Chinese army violently suppressed peaceful protest of Tibetan monks. A few days before a Tibetan woman also set herself on fire on the eve of the appointment of a new Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - A Tibetan Monk from Kirti set himself on fire and died in Ngaba (Sichuan province) to protest against Chinese rule and call for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Lobsang Thokmey, 28, carried out his deadly protest on March 16 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of anti-Chinese protests erupted in 2008 and was bloodily suppressed by Beijing: the army opened fire on the unarmed crowd, killing at least 13in Ngaba  and over 200 throughout Tibet.

Monks of the monastery of Kirti immediately brought Thokmey's body to the nearest hospital, where he died shortly after. Witnesses tell of a "massive" military presence in the structure, and that some Chinese military have taken the body against the family's wishes.

The Kirti Monastery and Ngaba County are the epicenters of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule, and the scene of many self immolations and protests. Monk Thomkey is the third from Kirti to set himself on fire on the anniversary of the March 2008 protests. The first, in 2011, was the monk Phuntsog. A year later Lobsang Tsultrin emulated the act. To date, 108 Tibetans - monks, lay men and women - have set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing.

A few days before Thomkey a Tibetan woman also set herself on fire and died in Ngaba county, to demand the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Kunchok Wangmo, 30, self immolated around midnight of March 13, on the eve of the appointment of Xi Jinping as China's president and supreme leader of the army. The woman's husband, Dolma Kyab, was arrested for refusing to indicate alleged "feuds within the family" as the cause of this immolation. He has since gone missing. Kunghok Wangmo is the 15th woman to self immolate. (NC)

 

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