Tibetan self-immolator Kunchok Sonam, 18, in an undated photo.
DHARAMSHALA, July 20: The wave of self-immolations inside Tibet continues to rage on with reports of yet another fiery protest in the Zoege region of eastern Tibet earlier today.
Kunchok Sonam, an 18-year-old monk of the Zoege Monastery, set himself on fire at around 8:40 am (local time) protesting China’s occupation of Tibet. He passed away at the site of his protest.
More details about the fatal self-immolation protest are not yet available.
According to Tibetan language media portal, Tibet Times, Kunchok Sonam carried out his protest soon after the morning prayers at the Monastery.
Chinese security personnel arrived at the site of the protest and, as in earlier instances, tried to bundle away Kunchok Sonam’s body. However, local Tibetans present there succeeded in rescuing the deceased’s body from falling into Chinese hands.
No information is available on where the body is being kept or on the current situation in the region at the time of filing this report.
Tibetan self-immolator monk Kunchok Sonam.
Konchok Sonam is the son of Sonam Palden and Lentrug.
With today’s self-immolation, a total of 120 Tibetans living under China’s rule have now set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Zoege has witnessed a number of self-immolations in the past. On April 24 this year, two Tibetan monks Lobsang Dawa, 20 and Kunchok Woeser, 22 of the Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery in Zoege set themselves on fire today protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet. Both of them passed away at the site of the protest.
The Chinese government has responded to the self-immolations with even harsher policies, criminalising the fiery protests and sentencing scores of people to heavy prison terms on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in self-immolation protests. Chinese officials have barred Tibetans from offering prayers and showing solidarity with families of self-immolators and announced the cancellation of development funds to those villages where self-immolations have taken place.
The exile Tibetan administration has made repeated appeals to Tibetans inside Tibet to refrain from drastic action including self-immolations.
The Central Tibetan Administration maintains that the self-immolations “represent a new threshold of Tibetan despair and resentment” and attributes the current crisis in Tibet to China’s policies of “political and religious repression, economic marginalisation, social discrimination, cultural assimilation and environmental destruction in Tibet.”