By Tenzin Dharpo
Yonten in an undated photo. image- Kanyag Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 6: Family members of the latest Tibetan who died following a self immolation protest have reportedly been detained by the Chinese police in the restive Ngaba region on the same day of his protest. Yonten died after committing self immolation in Ngaba town situated in the county by the same name in occupied Tibet’s Amdo region in the so-called Sichuan Province on November 27, 2019.
According to an anonymous source cited by Radio Free Asia, the family members were summoned by the local police for questioning. The source is however without information as to how long they were held or if they have been released yet or not.
The same source said, “On the day of his protest, his family members were summoned to the local police station for interrogation, but it’s not clear how long they were held and questioned,” he said, adding that relatives were able to take possession of Yonten’s remains from police the next day.
“On Nov. 30, a funeral and memorial service was held to mourn for the deceased.”
Earlier this week, the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration held a prayer service for the deceased where its President Dr. Lobsang Sangay said, “Yonten’s case is the first one recorded this year. Their sacrifice was not in vain as it has garnered attention and support from the international community enabling Tibet’s issue for discussion at the forefront.”
In the recent past, Chinese authorities have been known to frame family members of the self immolator to fabricated charges of murder and even penalising them with pre-emptive measures put to criminalise the act of self immolation.
This marks the 165th Tibetan to self immolate in occupied Tibet and in exile since 2008. Thupten Ngodup (2008) and Tapey (2009) were the first Tibetans to self immolate in exile and inside Tibet, respectively.