DHARAMSHALA, February 9: The man who set himself on fire yesterday in the besieged Ngaba region of eastern Tibet has been identified as 19-year old Rigzin Dorje.
The exile base of Kirti monastery in Dharamshala in a release today said Rigzin Dorje alias Rigpe is from the Garpa Tsongko household in division no.2 of Me’uruma township, Ngaba and the youngest of six siblings.
Rigpe set himself on fire at around 6.30 pm local time on February 8.
Eyewitnesses have told sources in exile that Rigpe raised slogans against the Chinese government before setting himself ablaze.
He was taken away from the site of protest by Chinese security personnel first to the county hospital and later to Barkham.
“As of the night of February 8, he was believed to be on the verge of death, but no clear information on whether he is still alive is available,” Kirti monastery said in its release.
A former monk at the Kirti monastery, Rigpe has been described as a “kind and humble” person who used to enjoy looking after pigeons.
In continued protests in the Ngaba region, which alone has witnessed 13 instances of self-immolations, monks from the Se monastery took out a candle light march on February 5.
The monks were marching from their monastery to Ngaba town when they were confronted by Chinese security personnel and stopped from proceeding any further.
No information is available on whether any arrests have been made following the march.
The situation in Ngaba continues to remain tense with a strict security clampdown on the entire region. According to the release, the situation worsened over the last four days in the build up to the call for a global vigil for Tibet on February 8 by the exile Tibetan leadership.
“Beginning early morning on February 8, Tibetans, not only in Ngaba town but on all the roads leading into the town were stopped, searched, and questioned one by one,” the release said.
“Tibetans are being severely harassed and intimidated by security forces.”
In Tibet, 21 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
Many parts of Tibet remain cut off from outside world with a prevailing situation of undeclared martial law following mass protests in recent weeks in which at least a dozen Tibetans are feared dead in police firings.