Lhasa (AsiaNews) - A 41-year-old father of two has become the latest Tibetan to set himself on fire in protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Shichung, a farmer and part-time tailor, self-immolated at around 4pm (local time) in Gomang Thawa village, Goman township, Ngaba County, eastern Tibet on 28 September. He died at the scene. Free Tibet has received confirmed reports of the incident.
This is the 121th self-immolation since February 2009, when protests against China exploded once again demanding full religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
The protest took place during the annual Mani prayer festival. According to our sources, Shichung (see photo) left the festival around midday and returned home to prepare for his self-immolation. He lit butter lamps in front of a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. He set himself on fire just outside his home and ran towards the nearby main road before dying in the street.
Shichung had expressed his inner feelings about the ongoing Chinese occupation to some friends in a tea shop a few days ago saying: "These people (Chinese authorities) look down on us (Tibet) and it seems they won't leave us in peace."
After the protest more than 100 police and military personnel, who were already in the village to supervise the celebration of the Mani festival, arrived at the scene.
The authorities confronted the local Tibetans who had gathered to take Shichung's body home. They forcibly took the body; claiming it was necessary as part of their investigation into the incident. Some Tibetans attempted to take it back but were restrained by local elders who feared the incident could escalate and result in a brutal crackdown by the Chinese authorities.