Mother of five dies in self-immolation for Tibet

Sonam Tso is the second person to self-immolate since the beginning of 2016, bringing the number to 145 in total. She was walking with her husband near a monastery when she asked to be left alone and carried out her protest. A monk who tried to save her is arrested.


Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Sonam Tso, a mother of five children, set herself on fire in county Dzoege to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. Her self-immolation is the second in the region since early 2016, and brings to 145 the total number of those who set themselves on fire against the presence of Beijing in Tibet.

Sonam died on March 23, but the news only emerged on May 7 because of the restrictions imposed by the communist authorities on communication channels to and from the plateau region. The protest took place near the Sera monastery. Sonam was with her husband, Kalsang Gyaltsen, and was walking near the place of worship.

At one point, she asked her husband to leave her alone for a moment: she walked away and set herself on fire, demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet. A monk who saw her called for help: her husband and another monk - Tsultrim, Sonam’s uncle - put out the flames and rushed her to the hospital. But the woman was already dead before leaving the monastery.

Immediately after the self-immolation, the police arrest Tsultrim on charges of "sharing information" about

Sonam Tso’s act. The Monk was released eight days after his arrest, but  his phone and documents were seized. Even the victim's husband was questioned several times by police.

This death brings to 145 the number of people who have self-immolated since 2009 in protest against Chinese policy in the region. For his part, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly urged his followers not to sacrifice their lives life but to "find other forms of protest." However, Beijing accuses the religious leaders of fomenting these acts "for his personal gain."