Beatings and arrests while two Tibetans set themselves on fire
by Nirmala Carvalho
Two young men, Lungtok and Tashi, set themselves on fire on the "path of the martyrs" in Ngaba, where there have been several suicides. The two young men were students at the Kirti monastery medical school. Tibetan demonstrators beaten by police with clubs and iron picks.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Chinese police have indiscriminately beaten and arrested protesters after two young Tibetans themselves on fire in the main street of Ngaba (Sichuan).

At about 18:50 yesterday, the layman Tashi (about 21) and monk Lungtok (about 20) of the Kirti monastery have self-immolated in protest against Chinese oppression in Tibet.

According eye witness accounts related to exiles, "Tashi and Lungtok set themselves on fire, shouting slogans and running towards the center of the road" which the Tibetans now call "the path of martyrs," because of the large number of self-immolations that have occurred there.

A group of policemen ran towards them, throwing themselves upon the two young men and beating them to extinguish the flames. They were first brought to the Ngaba hospital and then Barkham (Chinese: Maerkang).

Immediately after the self-sacrifice, a group of Tibetans held a protest and the Chinese security forces began beating them with clubs and iron-picks. Many were wounded and a number of them were arrested. One of the protesters' neck and face were covered in blood. No one knows what became of her.

According to different sources, monk Lungtok died from burns. It is not known if the body will be given to family members. Tashi's conditions are not known.

Lungtok was a student of medicine and astrology at the Menpa Dratsang (Department of Medicine) of the Kirti monastery. Tashi was a classmate of Lungtok, but in 2011 he left the monastery.

Since 2009 about 50 Tibetans have decided to self-immolate for the liberation of Tibet and the Dalai Lama's return to his country. At least 17 of them were monks or laymen at the Kirti monastery.

Kirti is a rather young place of worship, led by an abbot that the Tibetans call "not very well-educated" in doctrine. Suicide is not condoned in the spirituality of Buddhism in Tibet, but the young Kirti monks see this as the only way to counter Chinese repression that is stifling their religion and culture.