By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Aug 10: The Dharamshala-based research group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) on Wednesday revealed new findings in a 2013 self-immolation case of Tenzin Sherab, 33, who died in Chumarleb County in Kyegu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham. A monk named Tseta at the local Adril monastery was detained for seven months shortly after Sherab died due to self-immolation.
The new findings in this decade-old case revealed how Tseta was detained due to charges levied on him for “taking photos of Sherab’s body and sharing it with outsiders”. “He was subjected to severe beatings and torture in custody and forced to confess about his role in making the information about the self-immolation public,” the report further added.
The concerned monastery also suffered as a result; the Chinese authorities deployed armed police and issued stern orders for the monastery to be closed if any other monk was found to be engaging in “splittist activities”. The monks were also made to attend a series of political education sessions to show their “gratitude and loyalty” to the communist regime. The local police accused the 25-year-old monk for colluding with Sherab’s brothers, Thubten Dol and Jigkay, in capturing photos of the deceased body.
Shortly after the self-immolation, local authorities claimed in the local state media that Sherab took his own life because his girlfriend had broken up their relationship. It was also reported that he had fathered an 8-year-old daughter. The local state media further accused Tseta of “distorting the suicide as self-immolation”.
A source familiar with the deceased informed TCHRD, “[Sherab] was a sensitive man acutely aware of the many self-immolations that had taken place before him. Each self-immolation caused him great sorrow and he used to anguish over the utter desperation faced by fellow Tibetans suffering under Chinese rule.” Sherab was also among the affected families of nomadic households who had been forced to resettle under the Chinese government policy.