By Phuntsok Yangchen
Hundreds of Tibetans taking part in a protest rally in Dharamshala in solidarity with Tibetan self-immolators on November 8, 2012. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, November 8: With six Tibetans setting themselves on fire in two days in Tibet, protesting China’s occupation, hundreds of Tibetans in the exile headquarters of Dharamshala today offered prayers and took part in a protest rally.
Earlier in the morning, a special prayer service was held in honour of the five Tibetans who set themselves on fire yesterday, the most in a single day since the wave of self-immolations began in 2009.
The prayer service held at the Tsug-la Khang, the main temple, was organised by the regional chapters of Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, and Student for a Free Tibet, India.
On November 7, Tamding Tso, 23, set herself on fire in Rebkong region of Amdo, eastern Tibet, calling for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s return. She is survived by her six-year-old son.
Monks of the Dowa Monastery carried her charred body to her home, following which, over two thousands Tibetans gathered in the region, protesting China’s occupation.
Elsewhere in Ngaba region, Dorjee, 15, Samdup 16 and Dorkee Kyab, 16, all monks of the Ngoshul Monastery, located at around 12 kms west of Ngaba district set themselves ablaze in a triple self-immolation protest.
The three monks set themselves on fire in front of the local Chinese police station at around 3 pm (local time). Dorjee, 15, is believed to have passed away, while the two others have reportedly been taken to a hospital by Chinese security personnel.
According to eyewitnesses, the three teenagers raised slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be allowed to return to Tibet, before setting themselves ablaze.
In Bankar Village of Driru in Nagchu, an unidentified Tibetan man also set himself on fire yesterday. There are no further details available.
“Yesterday’s five self immolations in a day inside Tibet on the eve of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress is a direct protest against the party meeting and China’s failed policies in Tibet,” said Dorjee Tseten, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet, India
“China has failed to crush the Tibetan desire for freedom and now is the time for Xi Jinping to decide to either resolve the Tibet issue swiftly and peacefully, or face growing Tibetan resistance that threatens to undermine the very stability and endurance of the 5th generation of the Chinese Communist Party."
Tibetans offering prayers at the Tsug-la Khang in Dharamshala on November 8, 2012, a day after five self-immolations erupted in Tibet.(Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
Later in the day, hundreds of Tibetan took part in a peaceful protest rally followed by acandle light vigil to express their solidarity with the Tibetan self-immolators and to highlight the ongoing crisis in Tibet.
Protesters raised slogans for “Tibet’s Independence” and for “China to get out of Tibet.”
“Decades of intense suffering in Tibet has led many Tibetans to feel compelled to engage in extreme acts of protest, reflected in the ever-increasing wave of self-immolation protests taking place,” organisers said in a release.
“The Chinese government has tried a variety of heavy-handed tactics to suppress Tibetan voices: pay-offs and cash bribes, disappearances, detainments and imprisonments, constant surveillance, restriction of movement, and military crackdowns.”
Since 2009, 69 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.